When I joined my first critique group, which feels like years ago, I was green. I had no clue how to do a critique. I didn’t know how to do much of anything. I read directions…instructions and whatever I could get my hands on. I read Pinterest, I googled critiques and I was ready.
I also went first in my group. The critique was not great, not bad. But, you must remember that I submitted my first zombie apocalypse story to a small press and it was accepted. (To which a person told me-that never happens! Send it to me! I want to read it! They never did.) This was a chance to share my work with my peers and get some feedback.
I was a writer. A full fledged writer.
The way the critique went was everyone spoke, then you answer questions about the story, defend it or whatever. I think I gave too much information (like I always do). Looking back, I feel like a total ass. But hey, I also fell off my bike the first time I rode it, prompting my mother to take one of the training wheels. The one wheel I had was my crutch until she took it away and I was riding like a pro.
I’m not saying I’m a pro at this, but I did get better. I learned my groups pet peeves. I learned my pet peeves. My first group was fun. There was a really great sci fi story and when it was super duper good, the author goes, “I’m scrapping this shit and starting over.” It seems to be the way of my group. At some point, everyone scrapped something (except for me and another member). We had a good run. I could see our writing improving. It was great! I also got complacent.
A new member was added to our group. I’ll leave it at that. The person was interesting, attended two meetings (got one critique) and never came back. No great loss.
The group dwindled down to three of us (from five). I like to think we became close but things happened in our lives that caused the group to simply dissipate. I hear from two of the members once in awhile. I follow one on twitter. Ran into the temporary member joining another group and the other person dropped off the radar.
It was time to go back to having one on one critiques with a friend from Cleveland. She was cool and going through major life changes. Not bad, but good. She had a baby. And her world went upside down and right side up, then inside out. Having a baby will mess you up. You want to write but the baby wants to feed. You want to edit, baby has pooped the diaper. You want to read a book, baby wants you to read.
I went on Pinterest, signed up for editing software and tried to do things alone. It’s nothing like having that feedback from other people that keeps you going. Something about getting a positive little not scribbled in the margin saying, “Dude, I can so relate to this!” Those are the little things that make critiques.
I tried following all the guidelines and doing what I was supposed to do. It was like I was on drugs and needed a fix, walking around asking, “Will you read my story? Will you give me feedback?”
I reached out to other writers but everyone has a life, so I understand.
Then, it happened….