When I joined my critique group in 2013, I came into a community that had been in existence since the early 90s. There were five of us at the time (and are six of us now). I’m the next youngest member’s junior by almost twenty years. That means oodles of wisdom and experience I can learn from. I’m still not sure how I lucked out.
We meet twice a month in Rio Rancho (the community on the other side of the Rio Grande, which bleeds into Albuquerque’s Westside). One member drives from Santa Fe. Another Skypes in from British Columbia.
I’ve learned from these writing friends how to keep working through titles that have gone out of print, through rejection and awards and accolades and times of writerly drought. I’ve watched them revive decades-old manuscripts and breathe salable life into them.
Stepping into a well-established group meant there were stories and histories I had to learn and traditions I had to master. There’s our yearly writing retreat, where each night a different member makes dinner (and one lovely person makes us breakfast every morning). We write in the day time and critique at night, with one evening set aside for a movie. One retreat dinner we wept as we read this beautiful post by Marion Dane Bauer (the best blog post about writing ever, in my humble opinion).
There’s the AUTHOR license plate (with a history I don’t quite remember) that is presented to the member with the newest good publishing news. (Uma, who lives in BC, has a framed colored photocopy, which she presents to herself when she’s sold a new book). On Monday I got to hand off the license plate to someone else in celebration of her newest sale.
I’m beyond grateful for this community that so kindly welcomed me in. Are you a part of a critique group? I’d love if you’d share!