OK, I was a BIG chicken. Cluck, cluck! Do chickens get knots in their stomachs—or craw? Well, this one did the first time I showed up at the critique group I now belong to.
What was I afraid of? It certainly wasn’t the smiling faces that welcomed me—or the hugs and accepting attitudes of those seven beautiful people. It had everything to do with me.
I had been an isolated writer for so long. Now, I would have to put myself in the position of being vulnerable. Sounds like I’ve never written a thing, huh? Nope.
By the grace of God I’ve had nine books published. Not a huge number, but not bad. Cluck, cluck!
I’ve written dozens of magazine pieces for kids, plays, health related articles for adults and human interest stories. It didn’t matter. Cluck, cluck, anyway.
It took courage and a stiff cup of coffee to pass that first manuscript around the table. WOW, am I thankful that I did! Now nothing but a broken down car and malaria could keep me from going. (Chickens do get malaria. Do they drive cars? Those two on a TV commercial do.)
Does this sound like you? Perhaps you’re a chicken too. Nine books. Ninety books. NO books. I doesn’t matter. As writers we’re always vulnerable when the words that come from our hearts are read by others. I have found that to be a GOOD thing. The members of this wonderful group are anything but wolves wanting to gnaw on a chicken leg!
Here’s what our critique group means to me:
– It gives me the opportunity to know the wonderful riches within the hearts that are expressed on paper. What amazing talent!
– It teaches me in areas where I’m weak but someone else is strong. I’m learning something every time.
– It allows me to see my manuscript with “fresh eyes” and new understanding. Our members are kind and not negative, yet they are truthful.
– It keeps me motivated to continue writing and rewriting until my manuscript is polished. I won’t give up till it shines!
– It keeps me from becoming discouraged when I get yet another rejection letter beginning with “Dear Writer.” Lots of love and understanding. Everyone has been there.
– It gives me a chance to share in the joy with a fellow
writer when a manuscript is accepted. We all know how tough it really is to have something published in today’s market.
Maybe my cluck, cluck! days are nearing an end. That doesn’t mean that little knot in my stomach won’t show up occasionally. But that’s OK. Now I’m vulnerable in a GOOD way, and that will only make me a better writer. How about you? Are you ready to look for a critique group with these qualities?
Come out of that chicken coop. The wolves are gone.
Contributed by Sheryl Ann Crawford
Copyright 2008 Sheryl Ann Crawford