A few years ago, I made my first post in a “Share Your Work” writing forum. I won’t lie to you, gentle reader. I nearly soiled myself was nervous about hitting the “POST” button. To put your writing out there publicly is akin to stripping naked and cartwheeling down Main Street.
When I mustered up the guts to hit the “POST” button that day, a surprising thing happened: I snagged myself a critique partner, and not just any ol’ critique partner, either. My critter is witty, intelligent, and well read, and we share similar interests and tastes. Most importantly, she’s not afraid to add comments like “Um, no, doesn’t work,” and “What???” in the margins of my work. And oh, blessed saints above, the woman can write. I mean w-r-i-t-e. Readers don’t know her yet, but they will, and soon.
Our relationship has branched out beyond writing. I’d say she knows me—the real me—better than anyone else at this point. Who else but my critter reads my query letter for the millionth time without a gun to her head? Who else understands the agony of that first rejection? Whose tears mingled with mine when I met success at last?
Can a non-writer truly understand a writer’s many moods and tantrums?
My critter and I have never met. It’s possible we never will. But I consider her my BFF, and I am grateful for the day we “met” in the writer’s forum. We’ve come a long way since then, from self-conscious hacks with unfinished manuscripts to agented writers, both of us. I’m confident that the benefits gained by sharing our work with each other had no small part in that.
Turnip (Yes, that’s my nickname for her.) is on a deserved vacation with her husband right now, and I’m realizing just how much I miss her – and how lucky I am to have found her.
If you’ve found the perfect critique partner, one who shares your joys and sorrows, one who isn’t afraid to tell you when you’ve written a heap of steaming dung, then thank your lucky stars. If you haven’t found one yet, go set a trap. Your writing is the bait. Yes, it is difficult to put yourself out there. No writer likes to hear that her work isn’t perfect. But maybe, like me, the risk of ridicule will lead to the grand prize in the critter lottery.
Thank you, Turnip, for being the great critter and friend you are.