Growing up, I never really knew what it felt like to fail. I mean, I didn't accomplish everything I tried, but there was always someone to pick me up, kiss my bumps and scrapes all better, and send me back out to try again. Writing ... not so much. Starting was a scary prospect, because I always knew it was utterly possible I might fail--perhaps colossally fail--with no one around to pick me up and kiss away my hurts, or even tell me why I failed.
I kept my work secret from friends and family, not wanting them to see in case I wasn't any good. Well, except my mother. She's known about my writing from the beginning, encouraging and urging me on, just like she has been my whole life. Still, it's my mom's job to tell me how terrific I am, no matter what. I needed the truth, unsullied by the rose-colored glasses of motherhood.
Believing it would be easier to fall on my face in front of strangers, I went in search of an online critique group. Thank goodness I found Critique Circle. I'd recommend this site to any person wanting to have terrific, helpful critiques on their work. Here, finally, was that safety net I'd searched for. A group of people who understood me and knew exactly what I was going through.
These terrific people tell me when something doesn't work and needs changed in my book, and often act as sounding boards to help work out those changes. These same wonderful people are just as eager to tell me when I've written something brilliant.
As Zach and Lilly have finished out their story and my critique buddies have gone through the chapters of Always and Forever, I've started to believe I may actually be a writer, that I can do this. I now associate with some wonderful authors, and although readers haven't heard of them all yet, one day everyone will be reading their wonderful books. I've learned more in a few short months working with these new friends than I learned in any of the classes I paid to take. Check out the blogs that I'm following (left-hand column on this screen) if you want a chance to meet some of these talented people and see what they are writing.
Somehow, I was led to the perfect support group, and I'm grateful for them everyday. Not only have they strengthened my writing, I know they are there to catch me if I fall. I'm no longer writing without a net.