Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Serendipity

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.

29 comments:

Candyland said...

Consider me number five. I KNOW you can do it. And based off of our recent conversations, I'm ALWAYS here if you need me:)

Indigo said...

I totally love this post. Why? I know I'm in a different place as well. A year ago, not a clue. Today I'm dedicated and know what needs to be done. Have to admit the critique group hasn't fallen in my lap yet. I'll keep striving to be a better writer.

You've come a long way to finally getting a chance to lasso that dream of yours. (Hugs)Indigo

Kelly said...

Critique groups are essential emotionally and for improving your manuscript. The writing/blogging community is so supportive and helpful, as well.
Good luck with your submissions, Sherrie!!

Bish Denham said...

You are lucky/blessed. I'm still looking for a critique group I can bond with. I've tried several, but it just wasn't there....

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

There is a glass-half-full tone to this post that I really like. Thanks for sharing the progress and appreciation. What I've come to love most about the writers I've met--through blogging, conferences, by serendipity--is the helping hands and support so many are willing to give.

JEM said...

Oh, I'm so jealous :). I'm where you were a year ago, wondering how in the world I'll find a good crit group when I'm ready for it. I think I'd better start signing up for some classes...

Lori W. said...

Really love this and you know why? It's the"I got teary-eyed" part because I couldn't get through this without you all. I'd have given up, so I know how amazing it is to have people who believe you can make your work better. You're a rock star!

So excited about the new book!

Carolyn V. said...

You can do it Sherrie! Keep us updated on how the query goes.

I have been in a few critique groups. Some have seperated because of the distance we had to travel to see one another, others were perfect, but too big. All in all, I have loved my critique groups. They have helped me so much with my writing. =)

T.D. Newton said...

HI!

I just wanted to say that I've *been* to Solvang. Dated a girl who lived in Buellton a long, long time ago.

Laura Pauling said...

I wish you the best of luck in landing an agent! It's an exciting place to be: a new story in hand, ready to send it out!

Susan R. Mills said...

Here, Here! Crit groups are the best. I love my crit partners. Without them, I'd still be where I was a year ago, which was pretty much nowhere.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I LOVE this post! I can relate to the crit group search! I currently only have one - but awesome crit partner.
Sounds like you are almost there Sherrie. Good luck with the writing and agent!
(btw, I checked out the school - looks so great! I'm so glad you found a group to fit in with. But I found out I have to take a course from Canada to get the income tax back. So I'm still searching)

beth said...

In my experience, when I was actively seeking a group, it was never a good experience--when I answered a call for another member of a group or tried to start my own, it never worked. But when I just hooked up with other people in my field, we'd eventually get to the point where we'd say "Wanna swap pages" and it would work. Yay for serendipity!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

It sounds like you've come a long way. I also sort of fell into my critique group, and I have thanked my lucky stars ever since finding them. I think in many ways it's like finding just the right person to be with the rest of your life. There's no advertising for it. Well said.

I've seen your name pop up all over the place and thought I'd finally come check out your blog. Looking forward to learning more about you. Congrats on winning Pike's Peak--that's a huge accomplishment, and good luck as you prepare to query another novel. I wish you success.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

To new beginnings, to wonderful CP's, to learning and growing and friendship. :-)

lotusgirl said...

That's great. Blogging helped me find critique friends too.

Elana Johnson said...

What a great story. I'm so glad you found the people you needed just when you needed them.

C.R. Evers said...

awesome post! I'm glad you found a good group.

Good luck to you!

Christy

Rebecca said...

I used to feel that way about my critique group (for years!), but it's not working out so well any more, no matter how hard I've tried to pump some life back into it. The funny thing is, it's because of some members' successes that the group has ceased to function well. Who has time for a critique group when they're busy promoting their books?

Yat-Yee said...

So happy for you. *raises a glass* to new beginnings.

T. Anne said...

Congrats for the accolades on your story! I hope someone snaps you up and soon! And I totally get the year of growth thing. I'm a completely different writer than I was a year ago as well.

kathrynjankowski said...

Cheers and best of luck with your queries.
;-)

Casey McCormick said...

I'm glad you found your group, Sherrie!! I'm also incredibly excited that you're going to query something new. Best to you!!

SAMUEL PARK said...

It is very very hard to find people like that. Sounds like you're very devoted and hard-working, and you truly deserve the support, encouragement and the enthusiasm of others. So glad I found your blog!

Paige said...

Three cheers for being ready to query a new piece!!! And congratulations on finding such a great group to help support you through the process. Having met you, I know they're benefiting from all your insight and encouragement as well.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... how phenomenal! I'm so excited for you as you begin to seek a home for your new work (and I suspect your other story will find a perfect home someday soon too!!).

beckylevine.com said...

Wonderful post. Off to tweet a link!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Cheers to critique groups! Like yours, mine has supported me as my novel grows and my own story continues.

So glad to hear your experience has been so positive.

ChristaCarol said...

As writers, we grow extremely fast in our craft if we keep up with it. Crit groups are great if you find one you jive with!

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