The Loss of My Critique Group

I knew my Emory critique group was important to me for many reasons. The members would see what I couldn’t, tell me what worked, and what didn’t. Mutual respect for each other and our differing writing styles developed over a period of more than ten years. It jarred me when the facilitator decided to disband the group.

We were composed of people with a wide range of life experiences and careers: Emory University professor, journalist, lawyer, event planner, marketing specialist, and a law enforcement officer. Members left because of babies, high-pressure jobs, soccer mom exhaustion, too busy–meaning our group wasn’t a good fit for them, personal health, caregiving, and one male member died from cancer. Other members joined. We wrote.

Primarily, we met twice a month. Submission were emailed a week ahead of the scheduled date. After reading and digesting 20-30 submission pages for the submitting member, we typed comments, jotted notes, or wrote on the back of the last page. We shared over coffee or tea. Life complicated and infused our writing processes. Some people wrote literary fiction. The genres varied from crimes, detectives, amateur sleuths, fictionalized memoirs, thrillers, and YA fantasies. Short stories and in-progress novels  were accepted as submissions.

Advice: Whether you’re new or a seasoned participant in the game of fiction writing, I recommend you find a group of  writers to critique your work. They should challenge you, celebrate your small triumphs, and rally around you when a rejection email knocks you for a loop. You’ll gain skill as much from critiquing their stories as you’ll hone from editing and rewriting your own words. Note: The Atlanta Writers Club is one resource if you wish to join a critique group.

Endings are hard to write in fiction and live through in daily life. Loss doesn’t feel good. The balance beam has splitters. HipstamaticPhoto-526002904.717724

Change happens, but dang it, I’ll miss you, Ruth and Cheryl, and your stories. I sincerely thank you and all the other members who read my rough drafts and made suggestions.

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