I decided if I was going to take my writing seriously, and eventually make more than a hobby out of it, I better get used to sharing my work with strangers, and so I recently took the plunge and found a local writer’s club.
It was a small group, only two of us submitting work to be critiqued – one of them being mine.
I’ve worked tirelessly on this first chapter. As many of you can relate, it’s my baby. It’s the beginning, the conception, the dawn, the inception even, of dreams, goals, successes and failures – my writing journey.
And so, as I sat at the head of the table, under the “cone of silence” for 20 minutes while the group critiqued my work, it felt like they were calling my newborn baby ugly.
Most had kind things to say, with constructive criticism that I could actually use to put towards helping “my baby” develop. One person in particular (we will call him Mr. middle aged metro sexual) had just awful critical and judgmental things to say.
I scribbled away, taking as many notes as possible to reflect later and re-edit. But, I couldn’t help thinking, wondering, how much of this critique was actually good advice? After all, “Mr. middle-aged metro sexual” hasn’t submitted any work, ever, to the group. How do I know how good his advice is? Does he know what he is talking about, or does he just get his rocks off on bringing others around him down? In the same seat as myself, never published, at the infancy of writing, what makes his opinion valid?
Overall, I took away many positive attributes from the group.
#1: It is a safe place to share my work
#2: It’s un-biased, which is always a plus
#3: Networking, networking, networking
#4: It was really fun to talk to like-minded people and score a few writing tips
#5: The thickness of my skin grew a little, even if it was difficult to take some of it.
Overall, I will go to the meeting again in 3 weeks. I won’t be submitting this time, just taking in others’ work and critiquing. I will be careful, not to add to any of the blood splashed across the coffee house floor. I plan to be delicate but helpful – coddling their baby but insisting it needs a bath if need be…