I debated whether or not to post today. I’m taking a “snow day” in the midst of Snowmageddon 2011 and I tried to convince myself that this was the perfect excuse to be super extra lazy and loll around in my jammies all day. And then I realized that “snow day” just means I don’t have to go into work (whoo hoo!) and can do whatever I want (within the confines of my home…it ain’t possible to go ANYWHERE today). What I wanted to do was my Wednesday post. Am I sick or what? So….
This past Monday, I attended my second meeting of the Chicago-North RWA. After three and a half hours of being surrounded by fellow romance writers, I left inspired.
This was the second session they hold each month and it focuses on critique. A writer (after attending at least six meetings) is eligible to sign up and hand out roughly twenty pages of her work to the members for feedback. The writer reads her story aloud while everyone listens in polite attention. Once the oral portion is complete, everyone else rapidly scribbles notes all over the copy in front of them to provide appropriate critique. The copies will go back to the writer so she can review, evaluate, and then decide if she wants to use any of that information.
But it didn’t stop there.
It’s not enough, and I suspect, wouldn’t be nearly as effective, to just provide written comment. The manuscript chair went around the room and members told the writer what they thought. I had looked up the rules for this in my new member handbook and if someone is going to speak up, they need to give good positive feedback as well as constructive criticism. No bashing of the writer, even if you think her story sucked. That’s considered poor critique etiquette.
This verbal salvo of positivity and constructive feedback was where I was inspired. These women know their stuff!
Neither of the readers had ever read to this group before. It had to be nerve-wracking for them but you couldn’t tell. It was clearly a safe environment in which to read something that had been written with heart. The empathy and compassion in the critique-rs took any potential for sting out of the comments.
There was a connection in that room.
Each person was there to learn, to share, and to support everyone else in their individual writing endeavors. Some of these women have been published, some haven’t, and none of that mattered. What mattered was that each one of us was there because we love to write. And because we want to get better at it.
After all, writing a book is writing and writing and then writing some more.