Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are You Alone Out There?

Today I had a wonderfully productive critique session with my friend Rebecca Russell, who wrote two books for Silhouette Romance and is now writing a mystery. We've been writing buddies for twenty years come September. That's longer than a lot of marriages! Over the years what we've written has changed. I started out writing historical romance, then went to paranormal romance and short contemporary, then Harlequin American. We've read each others' "stuff," from sweet to spicy, from light to dark, from ordinary to bizarre. Today we ate at Cafe Brazil, remembering our critique partner, Kara Lennox, who is now in California. (Please note the menu, Kara. Gosh, we miss you already and you're barely gone!)

Before Kara left, we had a critique session "party" at a local ceramics studio to make geckos for her new home in California. I have to say, the geckos turned out great. We had a good time painting them and thinking about where they might end up - a patio, a tree, or someplace as undefined as the future, stetched out in front of a new life in a new place. I guess it's weird to say this, but whenever she looks at her geckos, she'll think of us! (Which one of those cute little critters do you think I painted?)
The important thing that I wanted to post is that having friends who are also writers is very important. While family may support us or think everything we write is great, a good critique partner will tell you what you didn't do so well. Or if you family isn't so supportive of you getting up early or staying up late to write "those silly books," your writer friends will understand and listen. When you've decided that everything you've written is horrible and you'll never sell it, your critique buddies will tell you what you've done right, what scene made them laugh or cry, and what character touched their heart. If you don't live near other writers, then try an online chapter of Romance Writers of America, or even Facebook. I've just gotten on there to meet up with my high school classmates. There are so many writers and readers on Facebook that the task will be narrowing down which ones to become friends with.
I hope that if you are writing, you are not alone. The process of sitting in front of the computer or leaning back with the laptop is a solitary pursuit by definition; only you are writing the book. Having other writers to talk to makes the process from idea conception to the words "The End" so much easier. Rebecca and I met when we "newbies" attended a local all-genre writing conference at The University of Texas at Dallas. Kara met us when she moved to Dallas, but we didn't become critique partners until some time later. We now have a new critique buddy, Gay Kiser, who is unpublished at the moment. But we're working on her ...

Next month I'll be in Orlando, Florida on the 21st, so maybe I'll have some more fun photos to post now that I've learned how to do this. Rebecca and I are leaving our husbands and children at home to go on a girls-only trip to celebrate our twenty year friendship. We're taking our laptops and a lot of ideas to share. Happy writing and reading, everyone.


Victoria Chancellor said...

Oops, I just noticed that some of my paragraphs melted together once the blog was posted. Sorry about that. I don't know what happened. Also, I posted it after midnight Central Time, but it is showing up on the 20th because of the time difference. Sorry about that also.

Lynn said...

I only had on-line writing buddies for a long time but last year, that changed and I feel like I've gained a whole new world.

It's like being with people who really get me and I feel blessed to have each of them in my life.

They hold me accountable to my goals which for me is huge.

Kara Lennox said...

Vicki, I miss you guys too! I'm sure I'll find some wonderful writers to work with here in California, but we won't have that history.

Victoria Chancellor said...

You're so right, Lynn. It's important to have the right people read your work. The wrong people can really mess you up!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a writer but it's always hard when someone you are close to moves away. My ex-husband used to move us every few months and it seemed like I was never anywhere long enough to make a friend. Now I'm back when I came from and it's so nice to have friends around again. And lucky for me my sister moved back and we can do things together. And loan each other books now.

Linda Henderson

PamStone said...


You are so right about the importance of good writing partners and friends. They are a valuable support group in an industry that can at times be full of rejection. Even though my two CPs live within the same metroplex, we are in three different cities and not exactly close. We do most of our critiquing on line, with a little help from Instant Messenging and the old trusty telephone. We do good if we meet face to face every couple months. There are many ways to keep the relationship going. Good writing buddies are worth it. ;-)


Victoria Chancellor said...

We are talking about getting cameras for our laptops so we could have live critique sessions, Dallas to California. And I would love to find some more like-minded authors here that need a critique group. See you Saturday, Pam?

PamStone said...

So which Gecko is yours? Mine would be caribbean green if I'd painted one.

Linda Warren said...

I've never had a critique partner and I'm so envious. There was one lady here who was a romance writer and we read each other's work for a few months and then she had to get a job and stopped writing. I really loved talking to someone about writing and sharing ideas.

I didn't realize Kara was moving to California. I thought she was moving to another part of Dallas. Geez! I must not have been listening closely. Thank God for the Internet. You can stay in touch daily. Invest in those cameras. That would be like a visit up close and personal.

You painted the pink one. LOL


Anonymous said...

Hey Vicki,
Yes it is so important to have good friends that share a history or common interest with you. I am really finding that out now that I am re-discovering my old friends from high school. I enjoyed our friendship in high school and hope we can re-connect on facebook and at the reunion. By the way, I love the Brody Crossing books and look forward to reading more of your books.

Marsha (Baker)