Writerly Wednesday

June was a writerly kind of month! There was...
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.


  1. Kelly-

    I can't wait to meet your precious baby. I feel honored that you'll be sharing her with us. : )

    If it makes you feel any better, I feel the exact same way. While "Secret Order" is definitely my first-born, she's been through a number of wringers already, and it's easier to release something that's more polished, like the first four chapters (which have been through the wringer more than any other). But, after those chapters? That's territory not a whole lot of people have covered since I'm going through this major revision right now. But you guys have made it SO easy and SO worth it with your great support and insight.

    Wait until we get into my "Marlon Grunt" manuscript, talk about ROUGH!

    Your students are so lucky to have you to understand their fears and process! I've been thinking about ways to make critique groups work in my classroom for my sixth-graders. One of my biggest fears is that they will be overcome by fear as well. Now, I have this great experience to share with them. Maybe I'll even show them everyone's comments on my manuscript to show them what tone to set and how to set up a good evaluation. I've lucked into a treasure-trove of good ideas and understanding with you all that I hope I can share!

    My name is Jessica, and I am also an Insecure Writer.


  2. :) It's nice to know we'll be traveling the Insecure Writer road together! You rock -- so glad we are crit partners now!

  3. Good luck with your writing group. Opening up a novel to critique is a big step!

  4. Sharing our work is one of the toughest parts of what we do as writers. It's not easy to put a piece of yourself on display, something you've toiled over and poured yourself into. On my own blog I once said it was like carefully undressing in your living room and then yanking the shades open. It's tough!

    But it's necessary for success. And you'll only be better for it. Good luck!

    J.W. Alden

  5. Hello from IWSG! It IS really hard to share your work and open it up to criticism. Yay for you for doing it though. Just think, an agent or an editor is going to be even more critical than your fellow writers, so think of it as a practice run :) Best of luck!

  6. Good luck! I've been ripped apart by very smart, talented CPs before....Even though it stings, I love them for it and my work is better because of it.

  7. Critique is always good. We are fortunate in that there are a number of writers willing to share their thoughts and idea. It makes me wonder how the old time writers got through their work.

  8. Hello fellow newbie! Thanks for stopping by my blog. You remind me so much of myself - your used the perfect word - 'Wilt' - I totally wilt when I think of handing it out. But you're right. It has to be done. Leaving it in the dark is not an option. Best of luck. X

  9. Oh I can't wait to get my hands on your little baby. Muwahahahaha!

    No. But really, from what you've shared so far, I am on edge as to what it's about. I can already tell you're a great writer and I feel lucky that everyone in our group seems to be awesome as well.

    I know how you feel about letting go. I'm terrified that it will be ripped to shreds, leaving me to pick up the pieces, thinking 'How could I go on?"

    I'm so glad I'm not alone in this boat of insecurity. Let's release our babies together :)

  10. Hi Kelly,nice to meet you.

    You go girl. Get that 'baby' out there. Scary,but that's what it's all about.

  11. Send without fear!
    And welcome to the ISWG.

  12. Haha -- I love the comment about brownies. Yes, those are very hard to share, for me even harder than my writing! And yay for searching out feedback. You will grow along with your writing. Good luck!

  13. Nice to meet you, Kelly! I know exactly how you are feeling because I am there now, feeling those same things! It's kind of like watching your baby leave the first day of kindergarten.
    Best wishes for growth:)

  14. I would love to be part of a critique group! You are lucky. as hard as it is to share our writing, the leaps and bounds our stories can grow is what attracts me to a critique group. I wish you the best of lucy, though I'm pretty sure you're in the right track to have an awesome book ready to be published.

    From Diary of a Writer in Progress