Wow. What a weekend.
The last Saturday of every month is Writers Group. I have mentioned this before. This is a fantastic group of people (I think I’ve mentioned that before as well), from a diverse section of genre writing ranging from poetry, flash fiction, horror, general fiction, science fiction and fantasy. What I like about them is that each person brings a little something different to the table so you get a really excellent, broad critique of your work from a lot of different perspectives.
This last meeting was my first critique by the group. To say that I was nervous is an understatement. Mur Lafferty tells us all the time that writers have these fragile little egos and she’s not wrong. She’s exaggerating, but not by much. We can be crushed if people don’t like or enjoy what we write. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put a piece of fiction up on the website here, something that I’m really proud of, and been crushed by the lack of response or reply. But you know what, it happens and we just have to move on.
All of us have this need to be validated, to be accepted – especially by our peers. In some people, this need is greater than in others. Years ago, I queried out to various agents and received some critiques back basically saying I wasn’t there yet. My writing didn’t suck but it wasn’t ready for prime-time either. I took that to heart and have been working on getting better ever since, so to have that validation – to have a group of my peers tell me that I am on the right track would mean a lot to me at this point in my life.
I’ve been writing Sam Kane off and on for a couple of years now. Her story has gone through many revisions and drafts (I don’t actually know how many drafts at this point because of the way Word works and the way I did things for a long time), and versions – I have changed a lot. But all of that has lead to the current rewrite, which is what I am submitting, 50 pages at a time, to the group.
I tell you all of this to sort of lay the foundations for what was going on in my head as I went into that group on Saturday.
When we got to my submission, I wanted to barf. I have had people I respect tell me that Sam Kane is good. I have had people in my family tell me Sam Kane is good – you always have to be careful of that, though, because your family is not always an impartial critic. These folks, the ones arranged around the table – these were impartial critics. I think I have been starved for this kind of atmosphere and I was about to get my first meal. I only hoped it wasn’t crow.
They loved it.
In this group we talk about technical errors, about word territory, tense, punctuation, logic issues, personal feelings and thoughts – you name it. They had very little negative to say and lots of positives. I was stunned. I scribbled some notes but in my head I was doing a little dance – sort of a cross between the worm and the chicken dance. It wasn’t pretty.
I think the moment that floored me was when my story – MY STORY – was compared to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.
My story, compared to Butcher – one of my favorite authors and, I freely admit, an inspiration for this novel.
My little author ego was bolstered by all of this. I couldn’t wait to get home, to get back to my laptop, to my story and the world I have been building.
I stayed up late that night, and the next one as well. Writing.