I have my critique group friends…and I have my write-in friends. These are not the same people. Not that there couldn’t be some overlap. Well, the critique group is closed (we’ve all known each other for quite a few years and no matter how wonderful somebody is, we don’t want to upset the balance of our group by bringing new people in). But the write-in group is a newer group…and we’re open to anyone who wants to come. On any given Monday or Friday, there are 4-8 of us who show up. You really don’t even have to be a writer to join us…you just have to be engaged in some sort of creative activity. (Well, we might frown on singing…just because that would be distracting…but if you want to sit and KNIT with us, I don’t think anyone would object.) What I get from the write-in group is a whole lot of positive energy. We don’t critique there…we just write. And talk (mostly at lunch…AFTER we write). And share our lives. It’s very supportive.

My critique group is supportive, too…but in a different way. We support each other in our efforts to become better writers. My critique group met last night…and it was great, as always. There was a lot they liked about book 1 of my series, but they also gave me some concrete things to work on in the next few days before I turn it in. So I’m excited to get back to work.

After we discussed manuscripts, one of our members pulled out a letter she’d gotten from an editor. WHY CAN’T AN EDITOR SAY WHAT SHE MEANS???? We are four reasonably intelligent women. We all know the story in question. But even with our combined intelligence, combing through that letter line by line, analyzing this group of words and that group of words, searching for clues in what was said as well as what WASN’T said, we just couldn’t figure out what the editor was getting at. Finally, I pointed out that the editor said, “feel free to get in touch if you decide to tweak….” (yeah, we spent a lot of time discussing the meaning of the word TWEAK, too!) So…I thought my friend should pick up the phone (or e-mail the editor) and tell her she’s decided to tweak, so she’s “getting in touch.” Then ASK HER what she means.

I’ve been thinking a lot about written communicating vs. oral communication lately…how different they are…how we perceive something we read vs. hear from a friend, an editor, a trusted critique partner. And once I get my thoughts together, I will likely blog about it…

But for now I just ache for this friend because while she has received illustration assignments from major children’s magazines, she has yet to publish a book. And she is SO close to doing it. She’s so talented…as a writer AND an illustrator. In fact, I would LOVE to have her illustrate my series. Well, maybe that wouldn’t be such a great idea…since she IS a friend, I might feel like I could call her up and say, “So…how’s it coming? Do you have sketches yet? Can I see? Hmm…that’s really nice, but I picture Kaden more like this…and well, can you do Ella more like that…oh, and here are some pictures you can use to help you with Buddy, Mouse and the mystery cat.” Which I would NEVER do to an illustrator who was not my friend…because it would be very inappropriate. Publishers keep authors and illustrators separate on purpose…

There are writers groups…and then there are writers groups

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