This weekend, as a part of my birthday celebration, I made a point of meeting up with a published author friend of mine, someone I haven’t seen in ages. He asked me where I was in my writing career. I explained I’d finally found my voice, four books later (five, if you count the one I wrote in my late teens). I’m not sure, but judging by the look on his face, I think he was a little taken back that I’d written so many books and had not even attempted to acquire an agent.
I wasn’t ready.
I knew my stories needed work and I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Writing a book is one thing. Writing a publishable novel is another.
In any case, I told my friend that I’m now ready to begin my adventure in this industry. But first, I have to finish the book, the newest version anyway. He asked me what was holding me back.
Time. I don’t have a lot of it. I’m a stay-at-home mom of twins and, since I’m a certified copyeditor/proofreader, I’m starting an online business as a manuscript editor and fiction writing coach. Plus, I’m a member of a critique group and am responsible for one crit a week. My author friend advised me to quit the crit group and focus on finishing my novel. He felt writers only need critique groups for validation or they get stuck in the land of perfectionism and never get anywhere with their writing.
I get what he’s saying. I really do. And he’s probably right. For some writers, that’s great advice, just not for me. My critique group is filled with a published author (with Tor), and contest winning Divas. They know what they’re doing and offer suggestions that really make me think about my story. I don’t always make the changes they recommended, but, often I do. Or, their idea triggers another idea in my wild imagination. Plus, critiquing someone else’s work on a weekly basis, forces me to keep a keen eye in regards to my own writing as well as the writing of others.
So, while completing my novel is important, there are other writing related things that are also necessary in my journey to publication and success as a manuscript editor and fiction writing coach.
Where do you weigh in on this? Has someone given you advice along the same lines? Have you taken it? What was the outcome?