Yesterday my friend Misty blogged about one of the elements of our writing relationship: making each other dig deeper.
As I read her post, I got a little teary eyed. My heart swelled. I admit it. Because I love this woman.
As I look back on the last couple years of having her as my critique partner, I see how much we’ve both grown. How our writing improved by leaps and bounds.
We studied. Learned. Shared. Wrote. Plotted. Read. Deleted. Edited. Read some more. Wrote some more. Banged our heads when the other just wasn’t getting it. And our writing benefited from it.
It was no small feat. It took a lot of work–countless hours and back and forth emails and reading the same scene a dozen times for each other–for us to get as far as we have. It took support. Something we’ve given each other from our first email. It’s been unwavering and I am so thankful.
I know what we have is a rare thing. I mean, come on. We met on the internet. Through Twitter and our blogs and eventually Facebook and emails. Then texting came and a trip to Chicago to finally meet.
We are lucky to have each other. I know this. And it makes me wonder about other writers and their critique partners. Is it strictly business? Are they friends? Do they go to the extent that Misty and I do for each other?
Writing is such a brutal process. Sometimes it’s fun, other times it’s like climbing the Mountain That Goes On Forever. And I think it’s important to have someone by your side through it all. Someone to make you try harder. Dig deeper. Give more. Someone that knows what’s inside you and wants to see you succeed.
Could we do it on our own? Probably. But knowing someone has your back–when a scene is driving you crazy, or a character won’t behave, or you screwed up the plot–is priceless.
How do you find a writing relationship like that, you ask? I have no idea. Misty literally fell into my lap (blog comment). But there are certain things I would look for when choosing a CP.
So…without further adieu…I’m going to list 10 things about Misty and our partnership that I find priceless.
- She stuck with me as we figured out our “PROCESS.” Every CP relationship has rules that develop over time and trial and error. We found what works for us but it took TIME. Which is our most valuable commodity and she shared some of hers with me. PRICELESS.
- We click. It happened from day one. We shared love of the same music, movies and books. This made for great conversations and added comfort. You know how it is when you meet someone that’s crazy about the same stuff as you! Instant friend 🙂 PRICELESS.
- She understands the investment. Being a CP is not a one time thing. Think long term relationship if you’re really serious about writing. It’s give and take. She knows what’s in it for her. My critique. My help. My support. And that’s enough. And she’s willing to go the distance with me. PRICELESS.
- TRUST. I trust her. Her judgement. I trust that she has my best interest at heart with every critique. She wants the best for me and my work. PRICELESS.
- She knows when to baby me and when to beat the living hell out of me. This only comes with time. Some days I just can’t deal with a 5 chapter
maimingedit. Life might be stressing me. I might be PMS’ing. And she knows. But believe me…when I’m on top of my game, and she wants to pull the best writing out of me she can get, she is relentless. PRICELESS.
- HONESTY. This is hard for a lot of people. We don’t really want to hear that a particular scene, paragraph or sentence sucks. But if you TRUST your CP’s judgement, and they say UGH, you will listen. Part of our relationship is brutal honesty. It’s thickened our skin, a necessity in the publishing industry. PRICELESS.
- She tells me WHY. Anybody can read your work and say…”Ya know? I really didn’t care for that line.” But a good CP can tell you WHY. They can point out the lack of goal or motivation. They can see the absence of conflict in a moment where it would be beneficial. They know when the structure of a novel is off. PRICELESS.
- She endures pain. No…REALLY. Reading a scene or chapter or entire book as it morphs from a rough draft to a final draft is a job. I’ve read Misty’s soon-to-be-pubbed book at least 10 times. Maybe more. But that’s part of the deal. Yesterday she read an important scene of mine at least 7 times as I worked to get the most out of it that I could. I’m sure her head roared by the end of the day. But she did it. For me. PRICELESS.
- She loves my characters. There is nothing as great as having her text or email me about my characters. It means those characters have burrowed in. Granted, we’re like the Giddy Aunt over each other’s work. But still. PRICELESS.
- She respects my life OUTSIDE OF WRITING. Yes, I do have one lol. I have a family. Responsibilities. A husband and children I adore. You wouldn’t think this would ever be a problem, but Misty and I have both witnessed it firsthand. A good CP knows family comes first. They know life happens. They don’t make you feel guilty for tending to your family instead of opening their email. PRICELESS.
So how about you?? Do you have a CP? What is your relationship like?