Retread: Why I go to critique group

I said to my critique partner this morning, The whole project is stinky it stinks it’s just nothing no hope.

She read chapter 13 and said, But it’s so good so funny Molly is so funny it’s not stinky.

I said, Yes, the first part of chapter 13 and the last part of chapter 13 are funny and very very good but there’s still no middle of chapter 13 and what there is stinks and anyway the other 47,000 words stink except for a few hundred here and there.

And she said, But the middle could be revised edited it has promise.

I said, But it won’t work because I have written myself into a hole and can’t get out so I have to trash that part and anyway the whole concept stinks.

And she said, NO you can fix it just keep going because I like Molly she’s so funny.

And that is why I go to critique group every blessed week.


The post above originally appeared on Whiskertips, September 13, 2009. A modified version is posted here by popular request.

12 thoughts on “Retread: Why I go to critique group

  1. Sometimes people think a critique group or partner is there to show you what’s wrong and to prod you to make changes. They are, but they’re also there to support and encourage you, especially when they see “promises” you don’t. Sounds like you have great partners.


    1. Linda, I hope you’re as fortunate in your search as I was in mine. Having a group of people who care about both you and your manuscript is a blessing.


    1. Thanks, Kaye. Instead of writing about what I know, I’m writing about what I don’t know. That way, I’ll never run out of topics.


  2. What a great post!!

    Yes, writing groups keep us going. I’m so grateful for mine.

    And, oh, how tricky middles are!! But then, I also struggle with beginnings and endings, so there you go. 🙂


    1. Beginnings, middles, endings…Struggle…Yes.

      But I’ve read The Traveling Disease, and whatever struggles it entailed left no mark. It’s lovely, from cover to cover.


  3. Stinky?
    I don’t recall the “stinky” word ever being used regarding your writing.
    Is it like “We don’t need no stinking badges?”
    Your work could never stink.


  4. I always think of Beethoven at times like this. If memory serves (and it occasionally doesn’t) he found composing incredibly laborious and painstaking: it was a painful, gut-wrenching act, this genesis. Even more so as his hearing worsened, and he totalled piano after piano in an anguished attempt to hear the music he played.

    Creationiscreationiscreation, and it hurts. But if one can go through all that, and then can come up with something which stirs the spirit, just as he did- perhaps, just perhaps, the cost isn’t too high.


    1. I didn’t know about Beethoven’s pianos. I don’t see how he could have done anything else, knowing what he had written and being able to hear it only in his mind. But think of the drive to create that kept him writing.

      Compared to that, I have nothing to complain about. Actually I have nothing to complain about–period. But the drama spices up my life.


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