As my manuscript nears the point of being submitted to publishing houses, I thought I'd take time to reflect on how the act of writing might be solitary, but the bettering of a book is (at least for me) a communal act.
Like the wave at a ballgame, it is a chain of individuals working together to create something special.
Without my critique partners and agent (and her lovely assistant!), I would be a much worse writer. They constantly give me new perspectives on my own writing and I learn from them each and every day. The coolest thing is that I learn from my critique partners not just when they comment on my stories, but also when I critique theirs.
Sometimes a critique partner's comment leads to a bolt of inspiration.
Other times pondering another person's story gives me unexpected insights into my own writing, where I'm strong or weak and how I can improve. Even beyond improving my craft is the fact that I'm helping the others to improve, too.
With a good group, you can watch as slowly, but surely, everyone in the group grows. Then, one day, one of the members announces getting an agent or a book deal and you know you helped get them to that point in some small... or even big way... just with a few comments. An hour or so out of your day.
Having others in your writing life also helps when times are tough. Life likes to catch us up in whirlwinds great and small.
It can whack us over the head with rejection, personal problems, life changing events.
Our critique partners and agents can help us through these rough patches. They can give us the reassurance and support we need to overcome our doubts, fears, and anxieties. Their cheers can drown out the jeers we might be hearing from others or from ourselves.
So for me, I really do believe it's important to have a good group of supporters in my writing life. Without them, I'd be lost, but with them, I can leap over the hurdles in the way of my writing and sail the stormy seas of life with the knowledge that there are people right there with me... buoying me up when I'm in need. People I can do the same for and together, some day, we'll find our publishing paradises and enjoy the fruits of all our labors.
So to everyone who's helped me become a better writer, critiquer, and human being, I say: