One of the scariest things about writing is that if I want to be successful, I must place myself in a position of vulnerability over and over again. Allowing others to read my work is scarier than that mouse I saw last time I posted on my blog. Crud! It's scarier than the sounds our pig made when we had him castrated so we could turn him into sausage!(Am I taking the farm thing too far?) Let me clarify, the pig became sausage, not the...ahem. (Now I've gone too far, haven't I?)
Please pardon my comparisons. This is me.(shrug)
There is a reason for this post. In the last few months I've discovered what a marvelous and encouraging thing trust is. I've become friends with another writer, and she and I have been able to exchange and evaluate each other's work. At first it was terrifying. What if she thought I had no ability? What if she was right? I attached my chapter to an email, then ignored it for a couple of hours, during which I received several emails from my friend, Kat, saying stuff like, "Come on, I sent you mine," and, "Still waiting." In the end,I closed my eyes, held my breath and hit send. One of the best things I ever did.
Our first exchange was a leap of faith. We were throwing our babies out there, hoping that the other person would take the time to care for them in the same way that we did. And that is scary! But what developed is a relationship of trust. Kat doesn't always like everything I write, and that's okay. Her criticism is welcome because I understand two things. First of all, she loves my story and characters,(and I love hers) and she wants the best for them. Second, she believes in my ability to deliver that. If she didn't then there'd be no point in giving me criticism. The story would still suck.
Now, when I finish a chapter I can't wait to fire it off in Kat's direction and see what she has to say. Sometimes it's, "I love it, don't change anything," and sometimes it's, "Well...you know I love you, but...." The first is obviously preferred, but both are great because I know that what I've received is an honest opinion with my story's best interest at heart. I LOVE THAT!
So, my point is to encourage others to search for this type of relationship. Critique groups are good, but the difference is that Kat and I are invested in each others work. Her success is mine, and mine is hers. I just don't think that critique groups reach a level quite so personal. Personal relationships are where we find the encouragment to push on, and as writers we all know how much that's needed.