One of the things I was desperate to find when I started blogging was a critique group. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I thought blogging would help me find one. That’s about as random as walking into a crowded bar and looking for a sperm donor. Not that I’ve ever done that.
I had taken classes hoping to connect with someone I could start a group with. I had gone to writerly events hoping to find a group I could join. I had put my name on lists of people as eager as me to be part of a critique group. Married, mother of two, seeking other middle-grade writers she can bond with, bake cookies with, and trust to impart honest feedback without tearing my soul out or making me cry.
Clueless and desperation are not good companions.
Some days I felt like I was in high school staring at all the happy couples and wondering why the hell no one wanted to hold my hand. And just like in high school, as soon as I stopped looking, the perfect group fell into my lap. Two people from a class, two people from an event and me. Did you really think the personal ad was going to get me anywhere?
Just yesterday I was emailing back and forth with two of the members of my group, two totally different conversations, and I almost started crying. They were actually tearing my soul out. And it was a good thing. We were bolstering each other, congratulating each other, sympathizing, supporting and urging each other on. Less than a year after I had given up on ever finding that mystical nirvana known as a critique group, here I was with the perfect people.
These four women seriously make me write better because I know they’ll call me on it if I don’t. They ask questions and get inside my characters’ heads, sometimes in ways that I can’t. They fall in love with my characters and invest themselves in the outcome. And I do that for them.
One year ago I accepted an award for a story that some agents have really, really liked, but not enough to represent. Now I’m ready to query a new one. It’s a completely different type of story and I’m a completely different writer than I was a year ago.
Here’s to new beginnings.