Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Girlz

“You started your story in the wrong place.” These are words a writer never wants to hear.  Only slightly better to hear is, “Your pacing is off in the tavern scene—which makes it awkward with tankards…tankward.  It’s very tankward.”  Being on the receiving end of critique can be painful at times, but today I want to take a minute to discuss its benefits.  This is the story of my girlz. 

Once upon a time I was a lone writer, out in the woods living off berries.  Alright, so I’ve never lived off berries in the woods, but I was completely alone at my kitchen table writing my first manuscript.  I’m not sure how far I would have gone with writing if a strange series of events hadn’t brought the amazing Heather McGovern into my life.  I could go on and on telling you the story of how we met, but I’ll summarize by saying I was her Mother’s Interior Designer; and Heather was forced to invite me to my first Carolina Romance Writers meeting as part of a blind friend date of sorts.  If not for that small action, I don’t think I would still be a writer today.  I walked into my first meeting terrified.  I can remember asking endless questions and soaking up every drop of information about writing those ladies could pass on to me. 

One day, Heather and I decided to venture out and meet the girls that always sat across the room from us at the meetings; you know the ones with the cute boots and the amazing hair.  They were the cool kids of Carolina Romance Writers and we wanted to be a part of their in crowd.  This proved to be a great decision because we met Jenna Patrick, Sydney Carroll and Lori Waters that day.  They had an existing critique circle and Heather and I wanted in…if you had seen the fabulous shoes you would totally understand this desire.

It wasn’t long before I was assigned to a critique group at a retreat we all attended.  This was when I met the incredible Darcy Drake.  I knew when I read her story of zombies and murder I’d found a kindred spirit.  I know what you’re thinking; what do zombies have to do with writing about ballroom antics in the Regency period, Elizabeth?  Well, let me explain. 

I believe great writing is great writing no matter the subject matter.  In fact, different viewpoints and specialties will strengthen a critique group.  I also believe in the power of a close group working toward the same goal.   This was the concept behind the diverse and amazing assortment of ladies I call my girlz.  You see, I’m one of the infamous CRW Bad Girlz.  We drink too much.  We travel with a stolen traffic cone named Conelius.  We wear obscenely awesome shoes.  We laugh too much whenever together.  I think we have more fun at the business of writing than most writers.  But, that’s the point of this blog post. 

Out of the painful critique of our work, has come a beautiful friendship. 

We are dedicated to the craft of writing and achieving our goals.  We push one another to stretch just a little further for greatness.  We are driven to succeed together and graduate into publication.  We study and teach one another workshops on writing.  We rip manuscripts apart and help piece them back together again, which usually involves tears—on my part anyway.  Yet at the end of the day, these ladies are my dear friends.  They’ve supported me through personal tragedy, bad hair days, as well as writer highs and lows.  I can’t imagine my life without the CRW Bad Girlz!

Are you an aspiring author?  My advice is: find a critique group.  If yours is anything like mine, hold on for a wild ride.  Are you on twitter? Follow our craziness at #CRWbadgirlz  


Heather McGovern said...

Naaaaaw! *Group Hug*

Seems like I remember our original plan was to "orbit the CRW meeting" and sit at all tables and make people talk to us. Ha! We didn't make it very far! I also remember Sydney's BA boots and that she and Jenna drank Sangria. I figured we could work with that, no problem.

I also remember thinking Darcy was "quiet." Ha! First impressions can be so off base.

I'd be lost without my critique group too. My writing would be full of crap, my fight scenes lacking intensity, my BBM not emo enough... I could go on and on.

I'm so grateful you also design window toppers and decorate houses, EMichels. If not, we would've missed out on a lifetime of adventures. :D

Darcy Drake said...

I am far too hardcore to get misty while reading this... far too hardcore. *cough* I just have some glitter and Jack Daniels in my eye.

...Well, I *can* be quiet! I think it was more that I was self-contained. The months leading up to the retreat I really had no idea why I was there or of the next right step, but I knew something had to change. There was no motivation or accountability on a daily basis. Then after the critique at the retreat, EMichels and McGovey were somehow not disturbed by me lurking out in their room.

I am so thankful for every single person in our group. I'd be lost without having amazing writers pushing, prodding, cheering, and dragging me into the next stages of my career! <3

Ann Stewart said...

WOW!Writing is a very lonely job. Nice to know you have such wonderful friends.

Jeanette said...

I don't know how anyone does this without writer friends. Essential for happiness and sanity.

So happy to be getting the chance to get to know you fabulous ladies.

Elizabeth Michels said...

Awww. Such sweetness in the comments, ladies! I'm with Heather. I'm feeling the need for a group hug. Come on Ann, Jeanette, hug. Y'all are all awesome! ...and for the record I kind of pride myself on my ability to make Darcy Drake cry. Muah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ;)

Heather McGovern said...

Tester comment ... *ahem*

Heather McGovern said...

One more time for good measure...

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