Why hello there – yes I am alive.

The rain patters on the roof and slides down the fogged up windows. A cozy dimness  has fallen over the house and the girls sleep.

I am snuggled up on my bed with a fuzzy blanket, fuzzy socks, and a delightfully firm bed-rest pillow.

I read for bit then start to doze.

Then, inspired, I open up my word document read the chapter I wrote most recently. I  swoon.  Great chapter.

Then, I get the courage I haven’t had in almost two months.  Reading chapter one.

You see. Nearly two months ago I submitted chapter one of my WIP (work in progress) to my writing critique group.  I submitted what I knew to be incomplete, first draft ‘word vomit.’  But I submitted it anyway.  I don’t know if it was bravery, or naivety.

I still have not gained the courage to open up and read each and every comment and correction my friends gave on that first chapter.

The pain. Oh! The pain of their comments still stings, but what I learned from them has transformed me as a writer.

Ok, maybe ‘transformed’ is a bit over dramatic. But looking back and re-reading that first chapter I realize just how far I have come as a writer. What my first instincts are to write down on paper -that initial word vomit  – has improved leaps and bounds. And the pain of their gentle corrections on my writing no longer stings. I look forward to hearing the feedback to make my writing and story better.

I write thinking not just about the story, but “what is my writing group going to think about this?”

Perhaps, some would say this inhibits the writing process – and maybe it has. I do write less down, but what I do write is better. Not perfect – no, hardly so – but much better than the cringe-worthy first chapters I wrote.

My group and I submit our chapters to each other over google docs and comment on each other’s work as we have time.  It is brilliant, and I am addicted to it. We meet once a week and discuss the points that are not as easily conveyed in comments, and laugh, and commiserate, and encourage each other. I’m also addicted to this.

If you are not in a critique group, I encourage you to build up the courage to find other writers to collaborate with and share your work. Besides the amazing feedback, reading their WIPs and giving constructive feedback hones the writing craft. It is all time well spent.

If you have a writing group – what role do they play – do they give only positive feedback, or do they dish out constructive criticism?