Friday, January 30, 2009
I've mentioned that I belong to a critique group (probably more than I should have, but it's part of my life, so there you go). I also mentioned that we were adding a new member.
It's funny how you meet people that you've been conversing with online and discover they are nothing like what you envisioned. Sometimes you don't really have a mental picture at all because you don't know much about them. Trying to attribute a deep voice or dark hair is useless because there is nothing to go on.
Well, this new member may provide a unique spin on things. He's a little different from us, writes non-fiction, and is the second one in the group to be published.
In looking at our group, and discussing how we have been a group for almost a year, it was surprising to each of us because we feel like we've been together a long time. Much longer than that. We know each other's strengths (a little) and weaknesses -- we are involved in what they're writing. They have a lot of patience for me because I have several works in progress and I've tossed a couple of different ones at them for review and they've never received a complete book yet...
But I felt a reluctance to change our dynamics. I know we need a new person -- we could probably do with a couple more people and still be set. But everyone has to deal with change, even though we don't always like it. Some of us just deal with it better than others. I always thought I handled it well.
But I sat in our group, watching my friends and listening to them discuss their stories for this new member, and wondered why I'd invited him. He was an unknown element. Who knew what he was going to bring to our group? Who knew if he would even stay? The other three we'd invited hadn't.
I realized he will bring a different view to our stuff. He will be the reader that might grab our book because he needs a change of pace, something to relax with. He might have viewpoints that are valuable in the feedback we give each other. This could be a great addition to our growing friendships.
This reminded me of dealing with the people in the stories we write. Sometimes a character will pop in and you find yourself wondering "where in the heck did he come from?" You're tempted to remove him, sometimes I delete without even contemplating what that character might do for the story -- but you realize he could bring a depth to your story that's missing. Something that will add to the plot that was necessary to it's growth and ties it all together.
Life's like that sometimes -- imitating art. I'm glad it's not always the depressed painters it imitates...grin.