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Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My post today is in some ways a conversation with a very good blog that Annie Nicholas wrote yesterday on her personal blog. If you'd like to please go check it out. It's listed right there on the side bar. I'll wait here.
Okay? Are you back? Great!
In case you didn't read it, she's doing a blog series about the process of writing, what works, what doesn't and passing out some fabulous links to aspiring writers. Her advice is spectacular and I encourage you all to take it.
Some of you might not know, and those of you do might have long forgotten, that in another time and place four of the authors on this blog met as unpublished newbies in an online critique group. This group, at the time, was the best thing that ever happened to me. For the first time, I had someone else really reading my work. I had feedback, I had support.
I also had some bad advice. I say this, oh writer if you are considering a critique group, beware of other people's opinions.
My first week in this particular critique group I was introduced to a writer who write Paranormal Romance as I do. She read my work and literally ripped my newly finished manuscript to pieces, and not in a nice way. I hid under my bed covers for a week and refused to come out. I almost finished writing right then and there. It was horrendous. Later, I would take the attitude that I just didn't read what she did for my work. She didn't read me, I didn't read her and it became a mutually ignored relationship.
But, having said that, there were fabulous critiquers (i.e. the wonderful authors on this blog who were there with me...) I learned a ton. But I got into the habit of assuming every one else was write. It was actually Sandra Sookoo who said to me eventually, you know what, Rebecca, you have to like your own work. You have to believe in it. No one else will. This was good advice.
Yesterday, I was talking to the woman who does my website. We are reworking the front page, but this is a conversation for another time. Websites. I could write a book. And she asked me what I was doing about a category I had created for a series I've never written but had space for on the page. I told her to delete the category.
That book is the one that got away. It was the second book I presented to the critique group. Everyone had an opinion and I hadn't yet learned to value my own first. It got torn to shreds. I edited and edited and edited it to the point where it was no longer recognizable to me as being my own work.
At the point, I could no longer write it. My voice was gone. My muse went silent.
To me, it will always be the story that got away and a perfect example of the dangers of writing groups.
Please, dear writer, use them. They helped me enormously. I loved my time there and the relationships I formed are dear to me, amazing really.
But don't lose your own voice. Don't lose a story. Don't let it be the one that got away. You'll always miss it.
And follow all of Annie Nicholas' advice. I've found that she always knows what she talks about. And Sandra Sookoo too! And J. Hali Steele! And Sara Brookes! And D.L. Jackson! And Stacey Kennedy.....
Best to all of you in your writing adventures. Trust your muse. She's all yours.