Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

My first book is now in the world. I held it in my hands last week and signed my signature for two hours straight, using up all the ink in two pens.
As I sat there overwhelmed by the turnout at my book signing, looking at the faces in the line that stretched out the door, I was very aware that I would never have been in that position without the help of my valuable first readers.
This post is about how grateful I am to the other writers who have critiqued my words over the years. I would never have had a published book if it wasn’t for them.
I was so lucky to have several of my valuable critique partners attend my book launch party last Thursday.
A member of my very first writing group, Mickie Turk, was at the front of the line. We spent a year together as I work shopped Blessed are the Dead, bringing 20 pages of the novel every week for critique.
And my current writing group, Supergroup, was there in full force: Jana Hiller, Kate Schultz, Sarah Hanley, Coralee Grebe and Kaethe Schwehn. (Jana and Kate were two who had read the earliest version of my book years ago and gave me encouragement to keep going.) We were missing Sean Beggs for health reasons, but his input has also been invaluable. 
These six writers are a very important part of my life.  Not only have we critiqued each other’s stories, but we have shared each other’s lives, sometimes with tears and confessions involved. I could not be more grateful for these people. As one of our members has said, just being in Supergroup has stopped her from moving out of state. I agree. 
Kaethe has her stunning memoir coming out soon and I can’t wait to be in line to have her sign my book next. I absolutely cannot wait for the rest of the group to get published because there is nothing standing in their way. They are all amazingly talented writers and I will be the first one in line to cheer them on and buy their books and rave about them to others.
In addition, another wonderful friend and valued critique partner, Samantha Bohrman, was there. Her book comes out this winter and I can’t wait for it to hit the world by storm. She is a fantastic writer and terrific critique partner. And my friend, Paul Legler, also a published author now, was there and had critiqued Blessed are the Dead before it saw the world.
So, out of maybe 100 people who attended, eight of them were people who have helped me be the writer I am today. Eight people in my corner helping me to become a better writer. How did I ever get so lucky?
I can’t imagine being a published author without their keen insight into polishing and shaping my novels into something the world is ready to see.
The level of trust involved in having critique partners is huge—because by showing them my rough, shitty first drafts, I’m exposing my soul to them and knowing that they won’t stomp on my ego but also won’t tell me I’m fantastic and don’t need to change a thing.
Instead, they will give me sound advice and keen insight into what I should do to make my words sing.
Dear writer friends, do you have critique partners in your life? Would love to hear about your experiences.


Mockie said...

Aw . . . Kristi. You story was brilliant from the start. We all need fresh windows to look out from to see the kernels are still kernels or real corn on the cob. Sorry to get weird on you, but stories are these labyrinthine mazes full of every corridor and creature available inside our imagination banks. Sometimes our deposits are weighty and cumbersome, other times they're thin and wanting. And then someone comes along and says, "you know you could use that last nickel on a revised back story - and voila! you're back to owning a thousand bucks. Your critiques and suggestions for revision were immensely helpful to me. And now let me thank you! for your insight and heart. said...

Haha! Mickie although Mockie seems fitting this morning.

Kristi said...

Thanks, Mickie!
I always appreciated your keen and insightful comments and suggestions! So glad mine may have helped you a little. xo