Being a writer can be a lonely job. Putting words down on paper is immensely satisfying, but without readers, those words don't mean too much. And yet allowing just anyone to read your precious story is terrifying.
I was already two-thirds of the way through my first book when I "met" another fledgling writer on an on-line fan forum. (Okay, full disclosure: it was a Twilight fan forum.) We were both interested in finding others like us, women who were beginning to write or beginning to write again, and to that end we put together an on-line writing group.
We found a small group of other women with similar goals. At first, we just shared our how-we-got-here stories; why we write, what we write and the joys and frustrations of the whole enterprise. It was such a relief to not feel alone, to know that others were experiencing the same things that I was.
After a few months, we all bravely took a collective deep breath and shared our writing. For most of us, it was the first time we'd allowed anyone else to read our words. It wasn't unlike sending a child out into the cruel world for the first time; it was a very anxious time. What if no one liked the chapter I shared? What is they found it inane and stupid?
Happily, that didn't happen for any of us. We persevered, and we continued to share. Well over a year later, we've fallen into a rhythm of submitting chapters or pieces and critiquing each others' work. We're growing slowly and recently added our second critique group.
It's a great comfort to be able to vent the frustrations of querying, of writer's block and of the hundreds other heartbreaks, large or small, associating with writing. And of course it's also very heartening to have a built-in cheering squad when things go very right!
Good to know that no matter how the writing is going, I know the group has got my back.