I've spoken about my mysterious or not-so-mysterious critique partners before, and have strongly suggested to any serious would-be author to get one (or two) of his/her own. In writing, like most jobs, there are times when a coworker is needed for either sympathy, advice or just the unadorned truth, and that's exactly what a CP does for you. My CPs have been invaluable to me in both the craft of writing, and the job of being an author.
What a critique partner is: a writing peer who is working towards publication on a project which you critique in exchange for their critique of your work. What a critique partner isn't: your neighbor, your sister, your biggest fan, etc. who agrees to read your raw or unfinished manuscript and give you feedback. That is a beta-reader. Betas can provide all kinds of help to a writer, and I value the people who agree to beta-read for me highly, but they aren't coworkers.
The fact that Easy was being anything but easy last week had me so stressed out that I was frozen. I knew there were parts that needed to be written, revised, tweaked, or cut altogether, but for the life of me, I couldn't see it clearly. Universal problem: There is little worse than having something that Must Be Done Immediately, and having no idea of how or where to begin. For me, a story comes together like turning a dial - everything clicks into place at once. One minute - chaotic patterns. The next - clear path. This is especially true in the wrap-up.
I went crying to my CPs, fully expecting kick-in-the-pants, "Just sit down and just write it out," advice. What I got instead was, "So extend the deadline, which you should have never given." (And then they promised to actually kick me if I break that rule again.) I was so relieved that I relaxed. And when I relaxed, I wrote a little bit. And then I walked away from my laptop and I read. And then I wrote a little more. And the next thing I knew - click, click, click.
And if that wasn't helpful enough, my CPs have agreed to begin a partial critique now - while they're working on projects of their own - so I have longer to finish up before it's due to the copy editor. How cool are they?? Thank you Elizabeth Reyes, Abbi Glines, and as always, Carrie Sullivan (who writes under sexy pen names), and a special cheerleading thank you to Jody Sparks. :)
Tuesday Teaser #4:
“Your ID?” he asked when we reached the door.
My hands shook as I unsnapped the front flap on my bag and withdrew the card. When he took it from my fingers, I noted the blood on his knuckles and gasped. “Oh, my God. You’re bleeding.”
He glanced at his hand and shook his head, once. “Nah. Mostly his blood.”