Monday, July 22, 2013

Putting it out There - Part 1

The third and fourth Wednesdays of each month are two of my favorite days, regardless of the season. They're the days my critique groups meet. The smaller of the two meets via conference call, and is a new group, one where we all write in the same genre.

The larger group -- the one that met last Wednesday -- is made up of a group of people writing in a variety of genres. I've lost track of how long I've been going to this group, but I know it's been more than fifteen years. Being part of this particular group of writers is one of the most powerful tools in my writing arsenal.

It's hard to believe that I needed coaxing to attend my first meeting. Way back when my dear friend and mentor, Judy Wolfman, invited me to join her at a meeting, I was just a fledgling writer who needed a nudge. Once she convinced me to go, it still took several meetings before I submitted anything, and even then, I hedged my bets, sharing a piece that I knew needed work so I'd have some armor against the feedback I'd receive.

Having one's work critiqued is a necessary part of the writing process, and it's not always pleasant. Though I know I always have the support of my group, it's not always easy to hear what they liked and what they didn't; what worked and what needed work. Over time, I've learned to develop a poker face and a thick skin, writing down all of the comments I receive so I can go through them later and process them in private. More often than not, they improve my work, and even the suggestions that don't quite ring true cause me to stop and take a look at my piece from another perspective.  

In the past two months, our group has taken on two new members, and welcomed back an alum who has been out of the writing loop for nearly a decade. It's nice to have new perspectives -- though I must admit I was a little nervous about what some of them might bring.

Regardless of how long I've been writing, I need the input of others to make my work better. In January, I signed a contract for the publication of my first novel. It was a long road, but I'm far from finished. Instead, I've begun a new stage, one that promises to take my writing to the next level.

My work is now in front of an editor.

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