Monday, April 4, 2011

Critique groups - like your second family

I'm a lucky, lucky gal.

For years, I worked alone in my writing. Occasionally, I would let hubby read my manuscripts before I sent them off to a publisher, but mostly, I proof-read my own work and then it was all between me and the editor (and all those wonderful, hard-working interns and first readers in between, of course). It worked well enough for the short, sweet poetry I wrote for children.

But, times change, things change, and I guess I, too, change. I now belong to, not one, but two (count 'em) critique groups! Neither is my doing, of course. Left to my own devices, I'd still be writing alone...or not writing at all, as had been the case the past few years. As Dora Goss mentioned in her author's reading at ICFA, writing is one thing that nobody will ever make you do, and too often, I let other things in my life take over when I should be writing.

The first critique group I got involved with is one with fellow SCBWI members - two truly lovely ladies, Sherry and Jo. If it weren't for the persistence of Sherry in persuading me to join them, I'd not be inspired to give writing for children another go after a 6 or 7 year hiatus. Our backgrounds are different, but we get along great, as though we've been long time friends. I hope our group will continue for many, many years.

The second group I'm involved with came about with the efforts of a classmate of mine from both the SFI and SFII class from Gotham Writers' Workshop. Russell helms the group as the fearless Skipper and we're the hopeful writer-castaways on the island of Creating/Editing...or something like that. I also hope that this group will last a long time - as long as Gilligan and his compatriots were on the island.

Now that I'm with these two groups, I can't imagine how I once worked alone. I've not submitted anything to be looked over in the SCBWI group yet, but I have been critiqued by the SF crew in one or both of my classes and they are one skilled bunch of writers who provide exceptional feedback.

And also now that I'm with these groups, I can heartily recommend joining a critique group to other writers. They'll provide you with the tough love and some gentle hand-holding that good friends or family would. I wish you as much success in finding one that you click with as I have had!

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