|photo by Lemon Lauren|
One of the writers in my critique group--She Who Will Not Be Named (SWWNBN)-- has done the same thing for several meetings in a row. When it comes her turn to share, she hems and haws, saying she really doesn't have much. What she has brought are "old" pieces, stories and essays that have sat by the wayside, wasting away. And as the other four of us read her piece, our mouths gape open. Our eyes spin around in our heads. Our brains whir in wonderment. Where did she get this awesome idea? How did she craft such a poignant piece that's simple and mind-blowing at the same time? How can we take her down a notch? (Okay, that last one probably only ran through my mind.)
And her perception is her reality. She honestly thinks--each time--that her pieces suck. (That's my term. SWWNBN's far too much of a lady to say something so crass. I myself am not disabled in that way.)
And each time, Lynn and I roll our eyes and then give this writer the stink eye. We started making jokes that she was pulling Pulitizer-prize winning stuff out of her butt.
It came to a climax at our last critique session. After reading her piece, we each drew a set of buttocks at the end of her story. Some of us drew two butts--one like our own, with the normal "waste" coming out and then SWWNBN's rear end, with gold nuggets of words coming out. (I even think I saw one of the butts sporting sprouts of hair. Disgusting!)
Of course, she is going to keep those drafts forever; someday, those doodled posteriors will bring some big bucks, when we all become internationally-known writers. ('Cause we sure ain't going to get known as illustrators. The drawings are proof of that.)
It's crucial to have a sense of humor (in my opinion) when you're a member of an effective critique group. It's also important that all the writers feel safe. Tammy (oops, I just named her), with the multi-skilled sphincter, did not feel threatened at all by the good-natured ribbing we liberally dished out.
As a writer...create a safe community for your writing to flourish. Dish it out. And take it. Serve it up and suffer through it with the love and respect that it's generously peppered with.
Because, of course...you're a writer.