I joined a local writer’s group. They meet twice a month and I’ve already attended three meetings. I’ve really enjoyed working with them so far–they are kind, respectful, and insightful with their critiques. It reminds me a lot of how we critiqued each other in writing classes in college–how the Great Joyce Dyer, my favorite professor and adviser–taught us to critique. So far, I’ve just been involved as someone providing a critique of the submitted pieces. I have enjoyed this thoroughly–so many wonderful writers in our group! It’s inspiring, really, to be in the company of much great talent.
I’m submitting my own piece for review for the March 21st meeting.To be honest, I’m not even that nervous about it. I have an abundance of things I’ve been working on in the last year, between the novel I started in 2011 and my NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m really curious to see how an audience reacts to them. This group is really respectful and nice so I can’t imagine feeling upset or defensive about their input. As they said at the first meeting I attended, “It’s better to hear it from us than an editor.”
They are really constructive about pointing out plot flaws and inconsistencies. After having participated in two critiques now, I feel like if anything I need to improve my own critiquing skills. Part of the problem stems from my nervousness at talking solo in a big group of people who are all listening to me during the two minutes I’m allotted to speak to the author. I’m sure this nervousness will dissolve in time as I get used to the people in the group. But this nervousness often makes me forget what I wanted to say. I also think I’m not as detail-oriented when I read. However, I have been making notes of the things I question. Some of the people in the group are really, really detailed readers, though. That will be good for me when I submit something for them to read!
I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I probably will never actually be a published writer (unless you count the manuals I’ve written as a technical writer as published). At this point, though, I’m just aiming at writing a novel to its completion, editing it, and then…?? We’ll see. If I have enough confidence in the end product, I might actually put myself on the path to real publication. I know it’s not easy, though, and there’s the very real possibility that no matter how many times I try, it may never happen, no matter how marvelous my story is. Many great talented people I know have tried and failed, and continue to fail, so I know it’s best not to get my hopes up for anything.
I’ll definitely self-publish (after some very strict editing). I know that’s not a real route to the kind of publication I desire, but it might be enough to fulfill me. At the end of the day, if you ask me why I write, it’s simply because I want to. I like to do it. And that’s all that’s important to me. So this is the year–despite all the crazy stuff I have going on–that I just focus on doing that writing and completing one of my projects. And then I’ll figure out what the next best move is to make.
(You have to understand that for me it’s better if I just focus on a short-term goal. I get overwhelmed by thinking about all the details of long-term goals. So I need to just focus on accomplishing one thing before going to the next level.)
I’m not giving up. I’m just being realistic. And that’s another sobering truth about being around other writers. The good thing, though, is that we all have each other for support. I think having people to be accountable to also makes me find the time to do the writing. Like anything else you want to do, despite loving to write, you still have to make a conscious effort to do it. (Oh how I long for those summers off that I had in my high school years!)
It feels good to be finally taking some action on one of my life’s goals. It’s too bad I took so long to get here. I truly think my summer of U2 was the catalyst. Following them around the country was one of the most spontaneous things I’ve ever done… The whole adventure woke up the little girl whose voice I let be stifled (by myself and by others). Now I’m dreaming out loud and I’m ignoring all the voices who snicker, scoff, or minimize my dreams as ridiculous. It’s my life and I’m taking command from here on out.