3 S.R. Johannes: My Personal Muses

Friday, August 15, 2008

My Personal Muses

Can I say how much I LOVE my critique group? Oops sorry - I mean - my support group.



But still - the honest-to-god truth.

"The Calliope Circle" has really revived my writing career. We chose to name ourselves this because
Calliope means "beautiful words" and was the Greek "muse of writing".

Until March, I had pretty much given up on writing. I had my first book rejected and edited (actually chopped to pieces) the previous year and had not written much since. Then I went to Springmingle (SCBWI Spring Conference) and was lucky enough to meet a few women - all pretty much strangers. I can't explain it. We immediately clicked in an natural way and decided in that moment to get together. We all just clicked and committed to each other.

Now, meeting with them forces me to write. It pushes me to bring something. It pushes me forward. Before there were days, even weeks that would go by (without me even realizing it) where i hadn't written one word.

It's so wonderful to have people around you that understand the writing process, the ups and downs, the struggles and that care about you and your own writing. I think that's very hard to find. Before this group, I didn't have anoyone in my life that wrote. I only had the Southern Breeze (SCBWI) conferences (which are fabulous and I love them all too) and they were only 2ce a year! Other than that - it was pretty much begging my hubby, friends, and family to read through my stuff. Only to get back a "good job" or I didn't quiet finish.

I've been a part of critique groups in the past, but I guess something just never clicked for me. Either I did not connect with the people, or I was not ready, or their feedback did not resonate with me. Whatever reason, I had been completely turned off by them.

This group is so different. Almost cosmic in a sense. Great energy, great writing, great gals, and great fun. We all have similar struggles all being young moms that stay home with young kids, but even when we all can't be there - everyone still manages to read the posts, send helpful comments, and spout words for encouragement.

When I was rejected by American Girl, these girls were the first ones I called. They knew what it was like. They understood the sense of failure, the loss of hope, and my threatened dreams. They also helped me find the positive (that I was in the top 2 books considered for AG's list of 2009!) and pushed me to send my book back out.

The best part is that we truly want each other to succeed and wholeheartedly believe each one of will succeed. We are all great writers with great hearts.

Now, I write more. Now, I write better. Now I have people with which I can talk, obsess, cry, rejoice, curse laugh about writing.

I didn't really expect it to happen let alone to last. But to this day, The Calliope Circle is still going strong. I've learned so much from them and plan to hold on to this group as long as it is available to me. (without sounding obsessed or staker-ish :)

So to all you who doubt critique groups or have had bad experiences. If you take your time and find a good one - they can make all the difference in the world. Not just in your writing or in your book. But in your world.

You can find your own personal muse.

The Calliope Circle is mine.


Anonymous said...

I love reading your old posts. A good critique group is so important. But if you become too close as friends, do you think it ever gets to a point that it might influence someone to not be as harsh as they otherwise might be?

Unknown said...

I miss our group.... But I hope you know I am here for you still. Would love to plan to get together for coffee on a Sunday soon.

I'm going to call you this week for some help with my letter to Martha at Greenwillow.

Anonymous said...

I think the hardest thing about a critique group is holding your tongue (not literally of course, cuz that's pretty easy). When our characters are so close to us and somebody doesn't "get" them...ouch. But I have learned more of how NOT to act in a critique group from those I've watched that want to fight to the death about how 'they're right.' Ugh.

Carrie Harris said...

Oh, finding the right group that you click with is the BEST. This is a really emotional business, so having people who can relate to what you're going through and support you through it all is so important! Kudos to you on sticking through it until you found those people.