More than twenty years ago, I first joined RWA-SD as a wanna-be writer of Romance. I was working on my first Regency romance (don’t ask, it sucked) and didn’t know anyone. Roughly 6 months later, I had made friends with 3 other new writers who lived in my area, or close enough and had volunteered to man the sales table of used books. The 3 writers and I started a critique group and may or may not have helped each other. I’ve lost contact with all but one of them and she is doing wonderfully, even if she’s not writing any longer.
I dropped out of RWA because blah, blah, blah. Not really important. But about 5 years ago I joined again and found lots of changes, but no real close friendships with other members. Luckily I also joined a weekly write-in sponsored through NaNoWriMo and met my incredible writing buds. We have been writing together for a couple years now and a couple of us are at the point where we needed feedback on the works in progress.
Memoir writer Leslie offered the use of her lovely, amazing mansion-like house. We decided we needed food. We needed to start early. We needed to have copies for everyone to read. We thought we could get all five of us critiqued in a couple hours. Hey, we’d never done this before with this group. Cut us some slack.
The day started well. I brought my sweet dog Astrid and her kennel that she likes. But first I went directly to the back yard and let her run and chase bunnies. I hope someday to have a yard like this of my own, huge and full of casual wildlife that poses no threat to my dog(s) but where they can have the best time ever. Then we went inside without letting the cat(s) out and Astrid popped into her kennel. She and the cat, Jazz, began to play Peekaboo and be really cute.
We put out the food and made coffee and everyone showed up in good time. Those who had to leave soonest got to read first. I am blown away by the talent in this group. Maybe because we all participated in NaNo and stuck with our writing since then, or maybe our finding each other is fate, but there will be lots of thanks to them when my book is published.
The stories we read were a Young Adult, a Memoir, a short story with paranormal elements, a collection of poetry, and a Romantic suspense novel. And yet we all were open and accepting of the other’s genres and styles. Like I said, the talent these women have is amazing to me.
My pleasure at being told my writing hooked them knew no bounds. The only downside was that I had no time for a week at least to incorporate the tweaks and ideas that they gave me. But I have my notes and all their copies of my story returned with notations. This critique group is all good.
If you are a new writer, make every effort to get an in-person critique group going. Hearing your story as you read it out loud is a big bonus when it’s time to edit. Being asked to listen to other writers and get ideas that help them will expand your own experience and knowledge of how to write. And as you all work together, the bond you forge becomes a lifeline when doubt lingers in your way.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.