My husband and I went to Old Navy yesterday, and an employee handed me a rolled up piece of paper in honor of an event they were having for women. The paper said, "We think you're perfect just the way you are."
Very nice sentiment, though it made me chuckle. I realize I'm missing the point, but it's completely meaningless. Nobody there knows me, my little paper scroll was one of many that said the exact same thing, and it was handed randomly to me.
That said, nobody wants to be critiqued as they walk into a store. Imagine how traumatic shopping would be if store employees handed out slips of paper that said things like "You really shouldn't have been so grouchy this morning," "Tweezers are your friend," or "Ever heard of a breath mint?" Yeah, I'm totally fine with my "We think you're perfect just the way your are" note from Old Navy. But at critique group? That wouldn't fly. That's tweezer-, breath mint-, Clearasil-, fill-in-the-ugly-fixer-time.
This week I have a critique group meeting. I love my critique group! Like you in your groups (or with your beta readers), we read each writer's pages, really think about them, and give thoughtful feedback on what's working and what's not. It's meaningful, and we learn from it. I leave our meetings fired up, eager to improve my work-in-progress as soon as I get home. I hope to give as much as I receive, though that's a tall order since I receive so much.
Critique partners support us and guide us whether we're soaring or sinking in a business that can have the highest highs and the lowest lows. They're priceless. Thankfully, our critique groups critique and make us better writers. They don't blow sunshine our way and tell us our work is perfect the way it is.
Here's to our critique partners, the awesome people in the trenches with us, the ones who are watching our backs--and our saggy middles! Feel free to give a shout-out to yours!
I'll start! Thank you, Margaret and Jen! You two are brilliant! xo