On critique partners

I was reading Write Anything Andrea Allison’s post about Beta Readers (the first person who reads your draft to seriously critique it) and it got me thinking about how lucky I am.

One of the most important criterion for a critiquer is trust. I’ve dropped from writing groups before because I didn’t trust the people who were critiquing my work. Let’s face it, as Annie Lamott funnily says, writers are basically envious of each other’s successes. Some are just meaner about it than others.

I have three readers I completely and utterly trust. They’re painfully honest and sometimes I want to tell them “you’re not my friend anymore” (that’s usually when they’re right; I hate that). The beauty of it? They are avid readers and much better writers than I am but they have decided not to put themselves through the publishing ringer. They leave that to me.

This means that I get the benefit of their great talent, abilities, insight, and honesty without the competition.

I have no idea why they still go through my manuscripts. We started out taking writing classes together and critiquing was part of the process. Fifteen years later, although I’m the only one who was fool enough to keep at it, they are still watching my back.  I find myself blessed.

So Peggy, Robyn, Jim (you know who you are), thanks. Again.

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One thought on “On critique partners

  1. Jodi Cleghorn

    I’ve never really given much thought to the title “beta reader”. I too am lucky enough to have two wonderful friends and writing colleagues who go through my work here in Brisbane, as well as having Annie, Paul and Dan on line. And another friend Catherine who I can also call on.

    I guess what throws me about the idea of a ‘beta reader’ and it is probably my own narrow immediate definition of it “just one reader”.

    It is interesting your quote about envy. What I like most about my writing circle is we all write very different fiction to each other and we are all at different stages in our writing career. Edwina has her first YA novel hitting the shelves in the US in Sept and has had a number of short stories published. Marion is an ex-uni lecturer turned writer in retirement. I figure cutting it as a writer is hard enough without trying to tear each other down – though I’m certain they exist (I had the “joy” of hitting on at uni when I was 18)

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