Apologies for being late on this post. My vacation became a cluster toward the end and culminated in the worst day of travel I think I've ever had.
And while I would I normally make a cynical comment, huff, and walked away, I didn’t. I wanted a critique partner, so I got right back up on that horse, baited my line and waited for another fish to swim past.
My first bite after the Great Dairy Product Fall-out of 2009 came in the form of a surprisingly pleasant letter. She seemed friendly, funny, and, most importantly, serious about writing. That e-mail and one conversation with her told me a lot.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Writing Exp: Extensive
Strengths: Copy editing, incredible listening skills and an unmatched ability to cut the BS
Pet Peeves: High Fantasy and apostrophed funny-sounding names
We knew instantly that we would work. We shared similar backgrounds, loved all things supernatural, and had a standing Sunday date with Ice Road Truckers. Hazaa! I had my critter – The Magazinista.
But in the infancy of our love there came another e-mail. An e-mail that came from a person I believed at the time to be a forum hobbyist, an optimistic joiner, and frankly someone whose opinion I didn’t take very seriously, mostly because of the following bit of his message.
I wrote the know-it-all jerk off, after e-mailing him to say thanks, but no thanks buddy. Well… That’s a lie. I couldn’t let his message go. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way and I had to find out who this mythical guru was. (After all, the forum was thick with rumors about him.)
Attila: I was like "would you just shut up and listen to me."
Me: Yeah. Cocky jerk. Check.
Attila: And you were like, "Uh, no, you're wrong and you're stupid, and you're an arse, and . . . . "
Me: Yeah. Elitist witch. Check.
Me: How do I have this wrong again?
He earned the name Attila because of the bloody critique he gave me on that chapter. A river of red ran down the margin and I could hear the ghosts of screams when I opened the file. Now, I know that’s just his way. Survive trial by fire and he eases up.
Amazingly, they continue to do so.
They pull me up every time I feel like I've hit bottom. They read, shatter me with their critiques, tell me to shut up and take it when I complain, and then help me put the puzzle back together. And it's always better. I couldn't have found better people. People more devoted to the craft of writing, who believe that writing is creative catharsis and who can't be themselves without the expression.
Age, genre, writing level and understanding of the business are all important in their own right, but they aren’t number one in my mind. The best advice I can give to anyone looking for a critique partner is to find someone whose company you enjoy and to make a commitment. If the two of you mesh, the rest will fall into place. The more intimately they know your work the better it will become.
Matchwriters – Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. This site has a good bit of information on writing and giving and receiving feedback. It’s also a good place to post a personal if you’re looking to find that special someone. There’s even a writer search for the assertive seeker.
Critter Love Connection – Courtesy of YA author Maggie Stiefvater and her fan site, this message board is dedicated to matching up writers looking for like minds. Post a little about yourself and your work in progress, connect with others, and wait to feel the romance. (You do have to create an account to access the message board.)
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