I have spoken of all the people I met at Midwest Writers Workshop. Well, as I was talking to one of my Twitter, now in-real-life, friends at the conference, I asked about her writing… How’s it going? What are you working on? Typical nosy me questions.
Her friends had read it, but she wasn’t sure what to do next. I asked what her CPs said…
She didn’t have any.
A tragedy! THAT’S JUST NOT RIGHT! HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN? ALL THE WRITERS OUT THERE! WE NEED TO HELP EACH OTHER! I told her to send it to me immediately. And she did. And I’m reading it now… and because she might read this I’ll simply say that I am making tons of comments (all of which you can ignore)and there are so many things I LOVE about it. So relax!
I have become a strong supporter of critique partners, of having a few, of being an honest reliable one (I hope I am!).
We can only grow as writers if we have people asking us questions about our words, challenging us to make them better, catching all the stupid mistakes and plot holes that size of Jupiter.
However, there are moments…
Points in your writing life to do this. There are ways that work and ways that don’t. And each and every one of us must find our own path.
I wrote tucked in my dark corner for years. YEARS. If I had gone out and had someone critique my work when I had first started writing, I would have curled up in a corner and never stepped into the light again. I know me. That me would have given up. Dreams shattered into pieces. I needed my mom and sisters to read those terrible first manuscripts and say… I LIKE THIS! I admit it.
When I was approached to join a writers group, at first I thought NO WAY! These people will think I’m an idiot. After living with the thought of other writers reading my words… after revising the same words AGAIN and having no idea what I needed to do… I went to my first critique group. And came out alive and SO GLAD I WENT. The things I could learn! Cue choir of angels…
When I began to query, I entered another phase of oh-boy-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing. No idea. I entered the darkness armed with my tiny bit of knowledge, like a spec of light, a single star in space. As we walk around in the dark, we learn. As we stumble and fall, we get up again with more confidence. The moments to take the next step will present themselves, if only we pay attention.
The rejection letters will come. If we persist, so will that one acceptance we crave. If my acceptance had arrived years ago, I would not have been ready. I had a bit of knowledge to acquire and the Universe knew it. I remember gazing at the initial letter from my editor, thinking that a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to answer her questions, I wouldn’t have known all the terms and writerly stuff.
And the Universe says, “See? Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”
Yup. You got it, Universe. I bow to your wisely-ness.
For those who are new to writing, who are still in the alone phase, maybe scared to have people look at their words… don’t sweat it. You will be able to tell when you need help, when you want help. Look for critique partners (CPs), look for writers groups in your area or put out feelers on Twitter (worked for me!). The search won’t be easy. You’ll find some, lose some, find others. Eventually, you will connect with just the right people. And you should connect, when you are ready. At the speed my friend sent her ms to me, I think she was ready.
As we go through each day, needing to reach our goals RIGHT THIS MOMENT!
Things will happen just when they should, if you have a bit of faith and put in a lot of work. Dreams are made of 100% believing and 100% sweat.