I belong to a fantastic Writers Group. It grew slowly, from small beginnings (two of us used to sit in a tiny room at the New South Wales Writer’s Centre every week for three hours, critiquing each other’s work and talking about writing). Over the years, people have come and gone, either because of their other commitments, or because they weren’t the right ‘fit’ for the group, or us for them.
Now we are nine, and have a level of trust and respect for each other and the work that we share that allows us to be honest without being unkind, and celebrate each others’ successes without envy. It is a rare thing.
I often come away from the group with plenty to work on. In fact, the days I come away with little in the form of feedback to work with, I feel cheated! I know that my Writers group makes me a better writer, and my books a better read.
And then there are the unknown critics. I recently sent one of my manuscripts in to an agent. They way this agency works is that they send a MS out to a panel of Readers for feedback. They ask them a series of questions to consider while they read, from whether it’s even worth reading, to marketablilty and everything in between.
I waited with bated breath for six weeks (which, I have to say, isn’t long in this industry!) and then came the phone call. I had pen and paper at the ready, and wrote copious notes. Much of the feedback was positive, which was nice to hear, but I was more interested, as always, in what they thought needed changing, tightening, removing. I agreed with most of it immediately, and will think about the rest of it over the next few days.
But what humbled me was the fact that these people had taken the time to read my book paying attention to tiny detail as well as story arc and character development, and then spent even more time writing notes for me. Helpful comments. Suggestions. Questions. I don’t know who any of these people are, but I thank them a thousand times over.
And so to the next edit.