As I sat around the table getting to know the four people who were going to have influence on my writing in the coming months, I realized that I'd decided to take my writing to the next level. I'd joined a critique group.
I've been a member of various writing and critique groups in the past, but they were always on the internet, never lasted very long, and weren't very helpful. We even tried one at Authors Incognito, but there hasn't been much activity.
This step in joining a critique group was a first for me. Despite the fact that I'm usually a people person who likes to socialize, there are many times when I'd rather hide in my shell -- when I'm writing or when people are reading my work. I've had so many family members read, various other people give opinions and edited my brains out -- but I know it needs that next step. I've got to have another level of input. I need to know if it really works or I'm just fooling myself.
When I got to the house where we're holding this group, the default chair (no one else took the ball, Gary!) showed me the box he'd stored from writing his first book and the critiques he'd gotten on it. It was stuffed with paper – red-lined, blue-marked, totally covered on some pages, manuscript. It was enough to send some of fainter heart screaming through the night. That was what my work would look like when they finished with it?
Never had the comparison of your manuscript being a baby that you have to let out into the world been brought home so forcibly. It wasn't as if I thought they were going to be mean in their remarks -- it was simply opening myself up to criticism and suggestion. It's that whole "delete that favorite/best line" and move on from there. ARGH!
As I got to know the other people in the group and discovered what their goals were and the work we would be looking at, I was impressed with the diversity. Unfortunately for Gary, he was the only male. I'm sure he felt outnumbered. I tried to get my hubby to come, but he claimed he'd be a distraction. right. cap When I contemplated joining the group, all sorts of thoughts ran through my head, like: "I'm not sure I can do this.", "It's another night away from my family." or "It's another writing thing." and finally, "What if they don't like my stuff?"
Sitting there, going over group guidelines and suggestions, outlining what we wanted to accomplish as a group and discussing our goals, I felt such a feeling of...belonging. I was with people who wanted the same thing as I did -- to write and have it published. They all had the same fears I did, the worry, the anxiety of putting ourselves in the path of rejection. But we'd all been willing to meet, no matter how difficult it might be.
We'd taken that first step. I'm excited to see where it takes us.