Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
But you must choose this friend wisely. Test her mettle. Can she give you the bad with the good? Does what she say match or exceed objective observers, like reviewers, editors, and your readers who will definitely e-mail you?
My friend Muriel guffaws at my misplaced modifiers. She notices everything, and she's brutal. She quotes the Oxford English Dictionary in the margins of my manuscripts when I misuse a word. I love that about her. Always the teacher. I'm her student. That's how I know she loves me too. So when she does say, "Patti, I love your work," my soul sighs.
When a workshop critiqued my first short story, speaking one by one around a large circle while I sat swallowing down my breakfast, forbidden to speak until the last person, the professor, gave his critique. All they said was true, at least the critique partners I trusted. Forget that guy who thought an epiphany required gun powder.
I live in a smallish town. Writers can be hard to find. I attended a romance writers seminar just to peruse the crowd. I'd prayed to find a critique group (AKA writing community) that day. I sat at a table with three other ladies. After the lecture, I pleaded for a critique group. The room went silent, but the ladies at my table gave me their phone numbers, and we've been together for over ten years.
I'm also fortunate to attend a church that organizes small groups around special interests as well as deeply spiritual activities like Bible studies, which I host, and trusts that the Holy Spirit will show up. I meet with The Lord's Write Hands on the first Saturday of each month. A broader community offers the opportunity for more writers who will bolster my flagging spirit with their tales of contracts or the glossy pages of a published article. The bigger this circle is, the better the chance that someone has something wonderful happening in their writing life, even if it's a goal to type the title of their novel on a blank screen.
And what an amazing gift the wonderful ladies of Novel Matters have been for the four years we've been meeting here every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I feel like God gave me the Barbie Doll House and pony for Christmas with these gals. They cheer. They pray. They exhort with gusto. My writing life has taken on a new spark with the girls behind me.
How has being a member of a writing community changed your perceptions about the writing life?