#writingcraft: Out of the Surly Void

When I decided to do a complete rewrite of my one and only novel[unfinished of course], I had no idea of how it could mutate into such a surly void. When it happened, I thought I only had two options on how the handle it. I could just toss the entire WiP into the perpetual desk drawer never to see the light of day again or… The other option was to keep on trudging along in the muck of my WiP.

Then, my brain started to calculate outside the box. Something I haven’t done for a while. I knew I needed help but with finances being so tight, I had to come up with something I could exchange for what I needed. I scouted some of the online critique groups hoping giving a critique in exchange for receiving one would work. Ineptly, that type of setup just wasn’t going to work for me. I didn’t and still don’t feel comfortable showing my crud of a WiP to people who are going to remain more or less unknown to me. I need people who are going to be acquaintances with me at least. Also, I didn’t want my WiP to be up on the internet for just anyone to read for the same reason.

I haphazardly slid off the internet, surrendering myself to the battle of working on the manuscript without any support or encouragement. I found all sorts of ways to procrastinate. There was the forever ending chores of housecleaning, checking up on our three indoor cats, making sure to call my mom often enough who is 92. All legitimate excuses but excuses nonetheless.

Approximately two weeks ago, Janice Hardy announced her once-a-year sign-up for her critique group at Yahoo. After reading her message, I left it right where it was. I needed to do some deliberation on this idea of being in a critique group. I belong to two online writers’ groups where I can get all sorts of feedback about my writing. Yet, I always feel a little apprehensive putting my work in either of their queues.

Finally I went back to the email Janice had sent and clicked on the link. Janice has set her group up as a register of critique groups and individuals looking for critique partners. The thought of having a critique partner was something I hadn’t considered and it did appealing to me. I had a writing buddy for a couple of years but my buddy had some personal issues she desperately needed to deal with. We lost our inner connection in the process. The notion of having a comradeship centered on WiPs again was persuasive. Needless to say, I dropped my name in the hat.

Right now I have two partners I swap WiP chapters/scenes with. We’re still a little awkward together but I’m sure that will work itself out as we delve into each others manuscripts to discover where the mistakes and difficulties are.

So far, I appear to be the one less skilled. Does it bother me? Yes, a little but if I’m going to learn more, I need to suck it in and take their advice to heart.


Learning is a struggle but, at the end of the day, it is definitely worthwhile.

“There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent.”
Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays


18 thoughts on “#writingcraft: Out of the Surly Void

  1. Good for you taking this important step, Glynis. You’ve written in past posts about your frustration at not having a critique group in your neighborhood. The online partnership seems to be a great solution. Be patient as you develop your relationship with your reading buddies and leave off judging your place in the queue. The purpose of a crit group is to help each other improve writing skills.

    I’m reading Lisa Cron’s “Story Genius.” Probably the best writing book I’ve ever read. I strongly suggest you read only the first 20 pages before you write another word of your WIP.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Glynis, this is a huge Positive step! It is so important to get feedback, to have a ‘conversation’ about one’s work and this is one way to achieve this! I hope you both have an enjoyable and helpful time together … don’t knock yourself either! We all bring different skills and learn along the way. Best of luck with your wip… btw I love your quote at the end and just smiling at happy dancing Socrates at the end of his days! That’s the spirit! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Learning is a struggle…” Yes, but that is the way you learn. I have struggled to learn a lot of things that I am now happy to say “I know how to do that.”

    Good luck, I’m glad you found some people you can work with.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. swapping critique is like a round trip – you get better spotting mistakes while other point to you what you’re doing wrong. i think it’s a great step. i didn’t do the swap though, i found a folder on goodreads for beta readers and contacted a few who were looking for my kind of book. they do have a critique partner folder though .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know Goodreads had those folders. I’m happy with the partners I have but I was wondering what I was going to do for beta readers. Thanks to you, Jina, I now know where to find them. {{smile}}

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done to you, Glynis! I’ve attended writer’s workshops, had a critique partner but had to give it up due to time restraints.
    It is difficult to give people your work to critique. Some do it well and others, well are too critical without being helpful.
    All the best 😀 x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Pausing – A Scripted Maze

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