My First Critique Group by Ann Haywood Leal

It wasn't easy to get there, but when you work for something, the prize is so much more worth it, right?

You had to climb a very wobbly rope ladder, and thank goodness my PF Flyers had good traction, because I could only use one of my hands.  The other one was clutching my notebook, my folder, various loose pieces of colored notebook paper, and my favorite purple pen.

There were two of us up there in that treehouse, but that was all we needed.  We were serious writers, and couldn't be bothered with other neighborhood riffraff trying to bust into our fortress.  I often wonder if that is why I tend to stick with middle-grade now.  I was twelve and my best friend, Leslie, was eleven.

Most of those first pages were heavily influenced by what we were reading.  My work leaned toward Ramona the Pest, with a little E.L. Konigsburg plot line.  Leslie's was Ramona the Pest, with a little Harriet the Spy sprinkled throughout.

We read and even revised a little up in that treehouse.  But mainly we created.  For hours.  And we supported each other.  Especially when the Assistant Superintendent of Schools who drove our swimming lessons carpool laughed after I reported from the backseat that I was going to get my novel published. We did what any proper writers would do.  We wrote him into our novels.

Writing is such a solitary activity.  That is why I cherish my community of writers.  You always have someone to climb that rope ladder with you and share in the adventure.


  1. Sooo true. Writing is very solitary...writers ALWAYS cherish having someone along for the ride!

  2. Very nice...for me it was Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins that made me want to write. Thanks Annie.

  3. I hope you sent that superintendent a copy of your first novel!

  4. I agree with Laurie! Really enjoyed the visual of you and your friend in that treehouse. What wonderful memories so full of creativity and support!


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