Yesterday marked the first Bucks County Writer’s Group meeting. Two fellow NaNoWriMo participants and I met up in the café at Borders Bookstore in Langhorne, and with cookies and coffee in hand we dove into the critiques.
Alex submitted the beginning of her Young Adult (YA) novel and I submitted a horror short story. I was nominated to go first; Alex wasn’t ready to face the firing squad. To avoid interruption and to keep the discussion moving, the author is “killed”. My frazzled nerves and motherly protectiveness over my short story made it difficult to remain “dead” during the critique, so I shoved cookies in my mouth to stifle any attempt to defend or respond.
I took notes to refer to later and realized all the constructive criticism was spot on. Their feedback mirrored all the questions I asked them to focus on while reading my piece. I was convinced I would want to throw myself out a window after listening to my piece being ripped apart, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I know the feedback will only strengthen my piece. I wiped the sweat on my forehead and released my fists. The impending doom of offering yourself up to other’s opinions is frightening, but only builds up to an anticlimactic reveal.
Once we put Alex through the cookie devouring torture, we spent the second half of out meeting writing. My unfinished mystery novel has been following me around ever since the end of NaNoWriMo. I couldn’t finish it. So, I decided to work on it yesterday. As an aside, I can’t say enough about the encouragement I get from working with other writers around me. Although we work independently, their presence keeps me from fooling around online and cruising the soul-sucking Facebook.
The sun was setting, and one by one Alex and Greg left to attend to their families. I found it hard to break my writing flow, but I was hungry. I packed my things up energized by an amazing high of writing accomplishment and drove home. After I grabbed dinner, I continued to work on my novel. My eyes kept fluttering from the exhaustion of writing and creating, but I pushed through. The next thing I knew I reached the end of my story. I finished the first draft of my novel. I couldn’t believe I did it.
I printed it out today, slipped it into a paper-sized envelope and placed it into my filing cabinet. The excitement to see it printed out is unparalleled, and in a few weeks the enormous job of revision shall commence. A weight has lifted from my shoulders replaced by a permanent smile. I’m riding the wave of this writing high, and I can’t wait to tackle my short story. The Bucks County Writer’s Group had a successful first meeting. Go Team!
Are you gripped with fear when your work is critiqued? What do you do to get you through the process?