This month marks the one-year anniversary for my writing critique group, MNYAWriters. And it’s been an amazing year. Looking back, joining this group was probably the single most important decision I’ve made for my writing career.
I’ve had wonderful critique partners in the past (winking at you Sara Biren and Tanya Byrne), but there is something special that happens in a group of writers I can’t quite explain. We generally meet once a month to critique the work of two brave souls and occasionally split off for writing dates when we can find the time. The energy that radiates from this group is powerful—so much that we’ve been kicked out of one library for our enthusiasm (and volume) and have been warned at our current location. Sometimes things get a little heated; sometimes we laugh and visit so much we run over on time; sometimes we focus more on the negatives of a piece than the positive. We are still learning. Always, however, we inspire, support, and encourage each other to be better.
I think it’s working. In the last year, we’ve watched our members win contest after contest, get agents, switch agents, sign publishing deals, publish books, and OMG—make the NYT Best Sellers List. And most importantly, we’ve produced some incredible writing.
After I got a book deal, I wondered if I would slow down my participation with the group. Once I had the support of a publisher, I thought maybe I wouldn’t need my new friends as much. That is laughable to me now. Though working with a publishing team is incredible, I’m finding I rely on MNYAWriters more than ever. I need a sounding board, resources, and a place where I can feel safe to talk about ideas and share my dreadful first drafts. Who are we kidding? I need people to help make me look good in front of my editor. Thankfully, this group is only too happy to oblige.
So happy anniversary Liz, Ryann, Sara, Kari, Jonathan, Kitty and Nikki! I can’t wait to see what we’ll be celebrating next year!