My critique groups have been going splendidly lately. Last week I met with the ladies of Metaphor 5 and we all left moving in new directions. I brought a flash fiction piece that is compelling but was not working as flash and left with it as a prologue of a mystery novel. My friend, S, told us how she had an epiphany about the piece she has struggling with for months and will now transform it into a whole new structure. We asked our other member, J, a few key questions about the novel she has unable to quite finish and we realized all she needed to do was stop trying to shoe horn her different story lines into one big narrative and let them each stand on their own.
This is why we have critique groups. Sure it’s nice to meet with peers and eat lunch or drink coffee, but the real purpose of showing up every time is community. By reading each others work, week in and week out, we know each others work intimately. I have learned each of my writing buddies writing foibles – I am overly fond of the semi-colon, S tends to get stuck at the beginning of a new piece wanting to get it just right, SW tends to get lost in her beautiful prose – and can call them out when they fall into their own traps. More importantly, we can ask each other the hard questions and push each other to keep going when we bogged down. Without a group to keep us in line, it would be too easy to stuck and stop.