Sunday, April 27, 2008

Remember: We're All In This Alone.

Current Reading: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Inspirational Quote: "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it." -- Julius Henry (Groucho) Marx.

Writing's a solitary pursuit. You never know if you're doing it right until you hand it to a reader. If you're lucky, that reader is knowledgeable, experienced and honest enough to tell you where your work sucks. Then you take it away and make it better.

That's where critique groups come in. I belong to a face-to-face group, and I'm grateful for their feedback. However, although they're honest and fairly knowledgeable, none of them are experienced (well, one is e-published, but a lot of e-publishing lacks the stringent editorial control that paper publishing possesses). My previous group consisted of a scriptwriter and a playwright. They were both honest and experienced, but not very knowledgeable when it came to SF/F (nor was I much good for them, I'm afraid). The one before that consisted almost entirely of elderly ladies. They made great brownies and pies, but they were too busy being nice to be honest. Their most useful feedback was "I don't get it."

Good face-to-face groups are hard to find here in the hinterlands of Ontario.
I've recently joined Critters, the massive on-line speculative fiction critique group. It has the advantage of being readily available any time, having lots of members writing in my chosen genre, and promising a wealth of feedback from readers at all points within the novice-professional spectrum. On the other hand, I'm worried the membership requirements are a little stiff for my available time (a 300wd critique each week), and I don't know if this is a decision based on a bona-fide need, or if it's a counter to my own insecurity ("I'll never be good enough!"), or even a good-looking excuse to avoid actually writing.

Regardless, this will be an interesting experiment. I can't wait to see what quality of work comes my way for critique, and what quality of critique comes back on my work.


mlh said...

To each his own and every man for himself . . .

300wd critique each week? Wow, I don't think I would be able to handle it with my time constraints. Still envious though that you had face-to-face critique groups even if they weren't professional.

"Every little bit helps," said the old woman as she pissed in the sea - Neil Gaiman, Sandman graphic novels.

McKoala said...

Hi Ulysses! You're blogging now. I promise to visit.

I also have difficulty with a real life critique group - kids, work, husband working long hours - I can't attend anything regularly. However, I've gathered a little critique group via the contacts I made on blogs and their input has been amazing.

But I'm really here to urge you to visit my blog and email me your address so I can send you your zombie cow! If you're nervous about sending a total stranger your address (although I promise I'm a totally normal total stranger), then we can do it via Robin/Phoenix if you prefer.