An essay by Terence Blacker, entitled "Are you really, truly an author?" roused my memory of a little piece I'd written several years ago with regard to writer critique groups. One paragraph in Blacker's essay particularly caught my eye:
"You are alone. When you started out, you might have gone on a creative writing course which peddled the myth of teamwork, consultation and 'feedback'. You have discovered, as you grow as a writer, what nonsense that is. Yours is a private project. If anything, sailing your rackety little boat as part of a flotilla actually increases the chance of it sinking."
Here are my thoughts from a while back:
I recall an interview with C.J. Box that appeared in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) newsletter some time ago. Box is the author of the Joe Pickett series, and the 2007 winner of the Writer of the Year award from the RMFW, not to mention a whole slew of other awards and acknowledgments. He is a practiced, successful writer with the accolades to prove it. The part of the interview, however, that I recall most vividly, was when he was asked if he participated in a writer critique group. His answer was instructive. He said, yes, he had participated in a group, but the experience was “painful.” And, I can only paraphrase here, but he then went on to say that his critique partners just didn’t get it; they just didn’t understand where he was going with his writing. He also went on to say that writer critique groups are great for some, and, yes, painful for others.
I’ve participated in both face-to-face and on-line critique groups sponsored by the RMFW.
My first reading before a face-to-face critique group, huddled in an alcove formed by three bookshelves within a book store north of Denver, is memorable not so much because I had never done such a thing, but, rather, because first principles of critique were then revealed. To wit: