- Kate Messner's Teacher's Write! Virtual Workshop (which is -thankfully- still happening!)
- North Star of Texas Writing Project's Young Writers' Camp
- A brand new Caffeine-Fueled Online Critique Group
- Fleshing out a new WIP, and
- Editing a close to finished PB manuscript
While each of these felt monumental in my growth as a writer and a teacher, I think I've learned the most about myself through our new critique group.
People. Let's be honest. Sharing your writing is hard to do. It's not like sharing a recipe, or a good shoe sale, or a brownie -- although, honestly, sharing brownies is pretty hard, also.
But sharing writing is different. We see it in our kids at school -- at the beginning of the year, when I offer the opportunity for author's chair, I am met with a resounding silent wall of dread. It takes time for them to dip their toes in and realize there are no sharks waiting to snatch them off to the deep, dark terror they are anticipating.
As adults, although we like to consider ourselves all grown up and mature and stuff, it's not so different.
For our first round of critiques, I shared my picture book manuscript with the group. There were a few good reasons for this: it's short, it's been through some revisions already so it's a quick and easy piece for me to work on, I reeeaaalllllly want to get it out into the hands of publishers, and I don't have a high level of emotional attachment to this particular piece. It wasn't blood, sweat, and tears to write. It's uber low-threat on the share factor.
And the critiques came back exactly as expected. They saw the same places I had noted that needed changes. They gave excellent advice. It was a nice, safe exchange.
But again. Let's be honest. It was a nice, safe exchange because I am scared to release my YA novel's hand and let it go skipping merrily down the street to meet other people all alone! In fact, after finally rereading it to begin revisions, I realized there is so much more work I want to do with it (so much that needs doing!) -- and I basically wilt when I think of showing it to anyone in its current state of imperfection.
In fact, I've been so upset over the necessary revisions on this novel, that I have pretty much ignored it for the past two months. Basically, I'm hiding it in a closet until I can deal. It's good I don't handle parenting the same way I handle writing. Yipes.
However, serendipitous as my life has been lately, even though I have attempted to shove that sucker in the closet and move on to new things, my precious novel won't give up. It's in the latest news stories I see snippets of on Twitter and FaceBook, it's singing to me through my favorite songs, it's waving to me from books I am reading, and it's bubbling up and sitting right beside me in my dreams.
Apparently, my sweet little novel has decided she's done spending time in the closet.
Hai. My name is Kelly. And I am an Insecure Writer. And next Monday, when it is time to submit pages for critique, I am going to send in my baby -- the first chapters of this novel that won't let me go -- and although it may hurt, I am going to grow because of it.
And if I'm lucky, so will my novel.