Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ode to Community

I came home last night from my critique group meeting on a high. A general question about my book from a member who'd joined us recently and thus had missed many of my chapters led to a lively discussion and a suggestion that I knew, with the kind of certainty that combines both intuition and rational thinking, that this was one I had to incorporate.

Critique meetings are great because people have different ideas about how to solve a problem or even if there is a problem. These diverse opinions have benefited me as much as the actual critique of my work. I've also
learned how to differentiate --for the most part, anyway--between the suggestions that I would incorporate and those that I wouldn't.

But every once in a while, everyone would agree on an idea and get swept up by a wave enthusiasm with ideas and suggestions pouring out like we're plugged into to some fountain of creativity. Last night, for me, was one of those meetings, and it happened to my book: Bonus!

Writing is a solitary pursuit and I like it just fine. But working alone is one thing, being isolated is another. I don't know what I'd do without the connection to other writers. I've been with my critique group for five, six years now and even though some members have left and others have joined, the group provides a community for me in which I live out my life as a writer.

Many writers are part at least one critique group, and it's not surprising. I think of what I receive: thoughtful critique from writers who are well-read, intelligent, and most of all, generous with their time and knowledge; what more can I ask?

(I suppose I could ask that they all suddenly decide to switch genres to writing middle grade and YA!)

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