I love my writing group (I hate them too, frequently, but that passes). It took me a while when I started writing to find people I trusted and who trusted me, and whose opinions I understood.
I tried the website critters, which was a great opportunity and I got some brilliant crits from it, but which was also very patchy. I got some awful, truly destructive manglings as well from people who hated everything about my stories (they probably hated everyone’s stories, but it felt personal at the time).
I posted a lot for critique on SFF Chronicles, and I still do sometimes. I know many of the people who critique on there, and their thoughts are always useful, but once more than four or five people have commented on a piece of writing, things start to blur in my head.
So my writing group. There are all sorts of advantages to a close group of people who regularly critique each other’s work. I know what I must listen to, and what I can disregard because it’s a personal preference (and they know that about me). Because we’re all at about the same stage, writing-wise, I learn a lot from the critiques I write for them as well as what they write for me.
And they don’t let me get away with things. They don’t nod and tell me something works if it doesn’t.
Which is annoying sometimes because it’s always nicer to be praised for one’s astounding brilliance than to be told that the chapters you’ve been sweating over just don’t do what you wanted. Sometimes I go away and kick the wall, and maybe I snarl a bit too.
But the whole point of a writing group is to tell you if things don’t work. And I am lucky — very, very lucky — that my amazing group do just that.
Thank you, guys.
My lovely writing group consists of Kerry Buchanan, John Brady, Suzanne Jackson and Jo Zebedee, whose wickedly dark and horribly funny YA SF, Inish Carraig, about aliens in Belfast came out this week.