Friday, June 13, 2014

The Dark Deliciousness of Working with Crit Partners aka a Love Letter to My Crit Partner

Writing can be so super lonely. You sit at a desk for hours at a time, no other voices or encouragement in your ears, type-typing away ALL ALONE.

When I started writing, this loneliness was one of the things that surprised me the most. I’m a pretty independent worker, but I found I missed being able to stop and bounce ideas off other people. And I liked being that springboard for other people, too--there’s such a great feeling in helping someone else reach the idea they want.

It was this feeling that drove me in search of a crit partner, and so one summer a few years ago, I logged onto my local SCBWI group, randomly emailed someone who said she was writing YA, and totally changed my life.

I don’t know what lucky star was watching over me when I connected with Natasha,* but I am so grateful for it. She’s smart, funny, insightful, and always willing to hear my many (many many) complaints about how this whole writing thing is going.

She’s been with me since my first, horrible, fledgling manuscript began to take shape, through some of the best (and all of the worst) moments of my writing career, all the way up to now, where she still encourages me, checks in on me, and tells me everything is going to be okay.

If loneliness surprised me when I started out writing, it’s the friendships I’ve made that surprise me now. I’m not sure what it is about writing that causes these friendships to be so strong and personal. Maybe it’s that you’re just with someone who gets it, but I honestly don’t know where I would be without Natasha and the other writing friends I’ve made.

Crit partners are so vital to this process. Not only for their editorial eye and their honest opinions but for the less-tangible things they give: friendship and support and membership in the tribe of writers. We really are all in this together, we can’t do this alone, and, thank goodness, we don’t have to.

Looking for your own crit partner? Check out SCBWI for fellow children’s writers in your area.

*Her name is Natasha Sinel (write that name down, people!) and I can’t wait until her amazing writing is out in the world and I get to stop strangers in the bookstore and say, “THAT’S MY FRIEND AND SHE IS AWESOME.”

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