Monday, December 18, 2006

My writer's group helps me build a snowman

Posted by Lisa

Sharing my writing with my group is easy - that's what I'd like to say. But, I'm afraid, I can't.

Since the first time we met, it has never been easy to e-mail my pages. As I hit that send button, I wonder whether my characters' actions are consistent, believable. Whether pacing and stakes work. No, sharing my writing hasn't gotten easier. But, now I understand how it helps me as a writer.

When I write a first draft, a second draft, I am building a snowman (I grew up in Canada - building a snowman should be easy for me). It takes time, planning, hard work, and sculpting. Final details are crucial; you need more than a carrot nose to give your snowman a presence and a personality - at least I learned that much about building character in my favorite writing book, Word Painting.

The first time our group met to review work, I hoped Amy, Hannah, and Lynne would LOVE my writing. They did love my writing, PARTS of it. But they had questions about a character, concerns about the timing of events in the first chapter. I walked away from those first couple meetings, more or less confused.

Now when I write my pages (build my snowman), I get their feedback knowing their insights can only help me grow as a writer.

If my writing REALLY were a snowman, they might say:

"I like the structure you chose. Four snowballs instead of three. Neat."

"But the foundation, it's lopsided. Look, Lisa, from this angle, it's not working. It looks like it might tip. Pack some snow here. Take this."

The first meeting I was leery of their criticism. Now I long for their feedback. Writing, for me, it's the same as building a snowman. And so, my writer's group helps me build a better snowman. Sure it's tough to hear that I must knock off the top snowball to straighten and sculpt the middle one. But they help me do what is necessary to produce my best writing.

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