by Scott Rhoades
Other posts on this blog have gone over writers group procedures and the importance of group critiques. Maybe my favorite thing about a good group, like my current group (hello, Sharks & Pebbles!) is the support we give each other.
Support is not always cheerleading, although that's an important part of it. Support is also lovingly telling each other when something's not working, and when it might not work without a massive overhaul. That's hard to hear. But when a group works well together, that news can be shared without being as devastating as it could be.
Of course, support also means cheering each other on through the query process. The Sharks & Pebbles are in a situation I've never seen in another group: we all have fulls out with agents, every one of us. Some groups would have to deal with envy and jealousy and competition. While I think each of us would love to be the first to come to group with good news, we're also rooting each other on. We genuinely want each member of the group to be successful. That's the goal of every critique, and we all recognize that we're looking out for each other.
That makes the occasional tough love message a little easier to take. When you trust each other, respect each other's abilities, and know that each group member wants to see the others be successful, then those hard messages can be taken as they're meant, as constructive criticism meant to help the author make the right decisions to become successful.
That means much more to me than any critique.