No, I am not advocating inappropriate touching. But on the heels of a fabulous SCBWI writing conference, I'm reminded that writing in a vacuum - something I tend to do more often than not - is a dangerous and unproductive thing. Sure, authors need a certain amount of solitude to execute the ten thousand ideas bouncing around in our heads, but without serious critiques, the stories just can't fly or at least we certainly can't become the best writers we can be.
I have a number of stellar author pals in my area, even a couple who are interested in swapping works, but the realities of daily house maintenance, a teaching job, a husband who travels, and two adorable little time leaches, makes connecting with others tricky. Not to mention I certainly don't feel right handing off my own work when I have little time to offer back thoughtful critiques.
Enter the lovely Princeton SCBWI conference that forced me to sit down and give careful consideration to a few other delightful YA pieces while handing off my own baby for review. And voila! A serious issue I've been fighting in the first two chapters was solved. Ok maybe not solved, but the lovely ladies in the group immediately identified a major problem that has helped me refocus and add much needed work. The piece feels stronger already and will be in the hands of two agents by the end of June. (And since I just typed the deadline into this blog, I am now held accountable to it. Yikes!)
It takes a little push and pull to find the right folks, but with the internet and professional organizations who will speed date you through finding critique partners (and chocolate covered espresso beans to keep you up late enough to read all the goodness flying your way), there's really no excuse. Step out of the vacuum and connect!
My personal plan is to hound my SCBWI critique group pals from time to time for more reading assistance while I work here in pretty old Central PA to build a network that suits me. In that spirit, I included a few helpful links below in the hopes of inspiring you to do the same. I've also just signed up for the Teachers Write! Virtual Summer Camp. Happy writing. :-)
4 Ways to Make the Most of a Critique Group
Critique Groups: What's Right For You?
How to Critique Writing