Monday, March 19, 2018

Acts of Writerly Kindness: How I Met My Critique Partners

When I first started writing a novel, it was a like a secret, clandestine affair. I wrote in the late hours of the night with the curtains closed and the door shut. I wrote notes to myself during the day and hid them in my pocket. I told no one.

 I didn’t want to fail.

I thought if I kept it all to myself, and didn’t share, I wouldn’t have to tell anyone until I was wildly successful. That way if I completely bombed at novel-writing, no one would ever have to know I tried and crashed miserably. Turns out, affairs with your book are lonely. And also, possibly the hardest way to write a book. Make friends!

Writer and author friends have proven to be the very best ones I’ve made in my life. Once I finished that first novel, I approached a kind author I’d met through my days at the newspaper office. I wished I’d done it sooner. She was excited to hear from a fellow aspiring author, and she remembered those days of low self-esteem and doubt that all those words you’re scribbling will ever go anywhere. We became friends. Good friends, and now she’s one of my best and most trusted critique partners.

I wrote more manuscripts. Better manuscripts. After securing my first literary agent, she sweetly encouraged me to sign up for Twitter and start *gasp* talking about my novel writing. I huffed, I dug my heels in, I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel like I had enough credentials to be on Twitter and talk about my writing among the professionals. But I signed up…and found so many other people just like me. Writers, writing to write. Writers, seeking publication. Writers, seeking self-publishing. Writers, in poetry and songs and short stories and bloggers. Readers! Librarians! Bookstore owners! I’d found my world. I made friends through online conversation and through other clients of my agent.

One, a successful short story writer and traditionally-published young adult author, I now consider my best and most trusted friend. We’ve never met in person, but we chat every day and exchange our writing constantly. The source of her kindness, support and inspiration has often pulled me through the I-hate-this-novel-it’s-crap-total-crap-mentality that inevitably comes. Through entering writing contests and events like Pitch Wars, I met even more writers. One mentor was considerate enough to love my entry so much, he worked on it in his own spare time, giving me feedback on how to strengthen it for the submission process. How amazing! We are now critique partners, too. He’s unlike my middle grade and young adult – a writer in adult fantasy adventure with a sharp writing style and amazingly creative ideas.

I enjoy that we can all share our different genres and see them through different eyes.

 Being able to cheer others in their work has brought an entirely new dimension to my life as a writer – one I never knew how much I’d miss if I didn’t have it. So get out there, writers and readers. Don’t keep the lights off, there’s so much waiting for you out there beyond the shelves at home.

 Happy reading!

2 comments:

  1. Finding our "writing tribe" is one of the most rewarding aspects of writing.

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  2. Oh, wow. This is so true. Especially those friends we never see in person, but love and appreciate so very much.

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