I thought I had found good critique partners (CPs) six months ago. I’d joined a writer community site, Scribophile, in October 2015, and I found a few like-minded people. We exchanged chapters, feedback, brainstormed solutions, and were generally cool to each other. These people were decent and definitely helped me become a better writer, but we were only acquaintances. There was a disconnect between us that made our relationship almost formal. I never knew it could be another way.
Until I participated in Query Kombat.
Participating in Query Kombat opened my eyes and my Twitter feed to the awesome breadth of the online writing community. I never knew I could step into this world and participate in conversations about writing, reading, publishing, revising, querying, and the daily struggle or joys of regular life. My social media experience consisted of interacting with in-real-life friends and family or the travel-blogger community which often felt shallow at its core (due to the prevelance of #teamfollowback).
I found my people.
And through this experience, I found my new CPs.
It started with my depressed state when all I received were query-rejections from agents and I was knocked out of the first round of Query Kombat. I had to face and accept the hard truth:
My MS wasn’t ready.
And no wishful-thinking or obstinate denial would make it any different. I struggled to accept this fact for a few weeks. I couldn’t write. I didn’t sleep well. Looking at my MS made me want to claw my eyes out. The joy had gone out of writing because of my obstinace.
When I finally accepted the truth, the gray days flipped slowly back toward peachy sunshine.
And then I reached out to the community. I offered to trade feedback on chapters and queries. I had a couple horrible experiences. I had a couple good experiences.
I had two incredible experiences.
There are always people we connect with better than others. It’s a fact of life. When you find those people, try not to let ’em go.
I found two kind, strong, amazing women, who slay me with hard truths that don’t feel like an attack on my work, my abilities, or myself. These women celebrate with me and I with them. We rant about the trials and tribulations of trying to achieve our dreams because this shit is hard. Every step of the way is like a battle to be won, and if you don’t have a warrior to your left and right, it’s that much harder to fight your way in.
This is what you want in a CP.
Someone who is honest but kind. Those hard truths are hard to accept, but you need to hear them.
Someone who has learned their craft. Those revisions are brutal, but you need someone to point in the right direction and cheer you to the end of the marathon.
Someone who cares about and understands your manuscript. Those overhauls are hard, but you need someone to realize when it’s necessary.
Someone who wants to see you succeed. Those rejections are crushing, but you need a warrior by your side to help slay them.
Someone who speaks your language. This path is rocky, but having a friend by your side makes it easier to navigate.
I can’t tell you what kind of person will be the right CP for you. I can only say that anyone who ignites a drive to revise right now with a dash of personal connection will be everything you’ve ever wanted.
I brainstorm with my CPs. I reject their ideas sometimes because it doesn’t jive with my characters or my MS—and they’re okay with that. I talk to them about real life. We talk each other off the ledge. We share the highs and lows.