October 09, 2011

Grouping up with critique folk...oi

I understand having a reliable critique group is a necessary evil for anyone who wants to be a writer. There is immeasurable value in that. The question that has bouncing around in my head is, how do you know if you've found a good one?

The stakes are higher for the newbie writer. It is harder to get noticed these days with the electronic crush on the industry. Top publishing billing will continue to handed to the literary giants (Nora Roberts, Stephen King, James Paterson, etc etc) like a golden baton dipped in crushed diamonds. The angels sing, the skies clear, and babies coo for these folks, and reasonably so, they are Gods among writers. So the only way to really get noticed these days, if you don't go the solo pub route, is to really stand out. The best way to do this, from what I have learned thus far, is to have a great crit group.
These groupies are the sounding board that can make or break your MS. Sure, in the end it is up to you, the writer, but your crit group plants the seeds of doubt that can change the story in your head. These folks, after reading your piece of work will like it, love it, hate it, 'meh...it's OK' it, and will likely offer tid-bits that might be better. 

This is HUGE for a writer. I get it. But it also scares the bejezzus out of me. How do I know the kindly older gentleman with the fuzzy brows and charming, yet jowlly, grin is not sabotaging my work? How do I know the crit group is trying to help me be a better writer? How do I know the people in the group are not severely blocked writers looking for an out of their psychotically driven The Shining-esque slump?
If I have not lost you yet, and are still reading this, you may be thinking...woah, she's falling off the deep end of the paranoid pool. You may be right. This is what happens when you read too much on the internet about copyrights and protecting yourself from crazy folk. 

Sharing your work is, well for me, terrifying. Especially when it's rough. As a new writer I know there is a long road ahead of me in fine-tuning my craft, and I will gladly walk it. Trusting strangers with giving me a solid critique is equally terrifying. I suppose one just needs to go with their gut on finding the right crit group. I need to just step out on that ledge and realize us writers are all in the same boat. We need each other's help to wade through the ocean of BS to get to the proverbial 'other side.' The side where we can make our dreams become reality.

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