Recently I had to write my first acknowledgment page. Seems silly, but it was a moment. It was something I’d dreamed about for so long, and something that might not have even happened had I not crawled out from under my safe little rock…
I’ll admit it. I used to be delusional. I had this idea in my head that writers were solitary creatures that only crawled out from under their rock once or twice a day to forage for food and scope things out. This worked for me as I’ve always been incredibly shy. I know, I know—but it’s true. Unless I know you, getting more than three words from me face to face is life trying to yank a pineapple through a pin hole. So the whole works in solitude thing? I was in love.
And I did it for a while. Holed up under my nifty little rock and wrote like there was no tomorrow. But I knew my stuff was lacking. It needed polishing and objective opinions and I wasn’t going to get that by letting my family and friends read it. If I heard one more, Oh it was great. I loved it, and it’s perfect just the way it is, I was going to yak. So I clawed my way out of the hole and joined my first writers group. I kept up with it for a little while, but that particular one just wasn’t a good fit. I never really meshed with any of the members—and trust me. It’s all about meshing.
Finally ready to take another stab at it, I joined RWA for the sole purpose of joining FF&P. That went better. It was less cliquey and had fewer time restrictions on posting to their critique forum, and because it was such a specific kind of group, there were more people that wrote and read what I did. Through FF&P I found my first CPs (who I will chase to the ends of the earth should they ever try to leave me) and then, finally, Savvy Authors.
These people—these communities—are my life support. Without them, I’d still be the person who didn’t know pitches from prologues. The right community will encourage you, give honest feedback (no matter how hard it might be to hear), and supply a shoulder to cry on when rejections and the occasional bad review hit—because they will hit. It’s a part of the process. You’ll learn with each other and from each other.
Your turn! Tell us about how you found your first writing community or critique partner. Do you have one, or are you part of a group? I’m interested to know what people think of online groups versus face to face ones!