I'm relatively new to the writing market. I am unpublished and partway through my first WIP. A month ago, I couldn't tell you what that (Work In Progress) term meant. Yet, I have always had the desire to write and become published one day.
Then, I got married, and had four boys. (Read: chaos ensues. Every. Single. Day.) Sometimes, it's more like a roller coaster and it's fun, other times, it's exactly like a roller coaster and I want to vomit.
I share this to say, that I am finding this scenario to be the norm, more and more. Many fellow writers are writing in the "interstitial times" (thank you for that, Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds--which is coming out in paperback and you SHOULD preorder it for about $5--Shamless Plug!!), such as every Sunday, when I take my oldest son Timothy, who's nine, to karate class.
I thought I had to wait until my kids were grown, and then live out my dreams. I am telling you, this is not the case. If writing is your dream, then do it now!! Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I have something else to say here.
In the process of becoming a writer, of generating 60,000 words over the course of a month, and turning into the home stretch to finish my first draft, I have jumped in with both legs and sought out "Crit Partners" to swap WIPs and go line by line or what have you, and give an outsider's perspective on what I am seeing as a reader needs work in aforementioned WIP. This is a "quid pro quo," and many are happy to do it.
Well, I am telling you that not only has this benefitted me to read what others are writing and see if what I am writing is in the same stratosphere as my fellow writers, but it has shown me something. We all write differently. Wow. Okay, hold the phone, I know you're terribly shocked and impressed I pointed this out. But, seriously, we all have our own focus to the WIP we are working on. I have seen it in the critiquing process.
At first, I thought this meant that this writer is better than me, way closer to the achievement of getting published. This might very well be true, by the way. Likewise, I have read works by others I thought were far below my own skill level. I got a little cocky. I may have poked fun. (Now, no one will be my crit partner!)
What I have discovered is this is not at all true. It's complete baloney sauce (it's what happens when you put a whole pack of bologna in the blender and hit go...my algebra teacher said this is what he meant by B.S. he wasn't, in fact, cursing in class). The truth is, that crit partner A wrote very polished, sharply developed characters, but needed grammatical nit critique help. Crit partner B needed line by line polishing help. Crit partner C needed a kick in the pants to write risk-taking 3D characters to recussitate the WIP before it went on life support. Now, all of them are happily editing and polishing their MSS.
No need to pat myself on the back. I'm getting something out of it. They're critiquing MY WIP. Hear that Crit partner B? You'd better get to Chapter 2 if you want me to crit your chapter 3!! And, I am benefitting with fellow writers partnering with me, writing along with me, and we're all in this together. I hope our collective future agents and publishers will appreciate what our write arounds have done for their benefit, not having to read the sludge we first produced on our own, but we can hold off and polish these babies until they are Publish Ready, and watch the offers roll in, or some other equally satisfying publication fantasy. Roll Film!!
**UPDATE: All my crit partners are taking ever-so-slight offense to being called out, and have been making a flurry of activity in getting back to me (thanks B man!) and responding to me over twitter and email. Rest assured, I have ROCKING COOL crit partners. You should be jealous!**
SO, having read this account, are you willing to jump on board with me, and get a crit partner or two or three, and swap your WIPs? Give as much as you can in your critiques, and watch it come back to you in spades. You'll be glad you did. And, your future literary agents and publishers will thank you for it.
Happy writing and happy editing. Let's Do This!!
G. Donald Cribbs
future author of The Packing House (currently 60K/80K)