Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Very Brave Thing

It was with much trepidation that I picked up the phone to call my friend, Larry Leech. Earlier that day I'd been at a Word Weavers meeting. I heard a couple of writers talking about their "novel group." It was then I remembered that Larry also has such a group, a place where writers in the throes of a novel can bring portions of their work for critique.

It takes a lot of nerve. Especially for me.

First of all, because I am published I fear putting other non-published writers ill at ease. Secondly, as a published writer, I am putting my work out there and saying, "See??? NEEDS WORK!" That's humbling. Not that I think I don't have work to do ... but my fear is that others will not feel as if they can honestly critique me.

Well, Larry didn't answer so I left a message. Later that afternoon he called back. As we were chatting -- exchanging pleasantries -- I wondered if I should just say, "Well, I called just to say hello."

But I didn't. I came clean. I told him I wanted to join his novel critique group, if there was room. He assured me there was.

He sent the email addresses of about the eight to ten writers in his group along with the general rules. I sent the first 2500 words of "Cedar Key" to them and then waited three days until the evening of the meeting.

I'd struggled with the opening of this book. Was it good enough? Compelling enough? Did it hook the reader? Did it raise the Major Dramatic Question that would be answered in the climax of the book?

Larry put me in the hot seat first. Of course. I listened as each one of the group's members gave me their honest opinions. One thing in particular had jumped out at each of them (so I immediately came home and took out the artistically offensive lines). For the most part, the group's members "got it." They loved it. They gave wonderful suggestions and pointers.

It's a very brave thing to do but I'm glad I did it. Next month I return with 2500 more words having been placed before them. Scary but I'm ready.

WORD COUNT: So far I have 11,415 words of the 95,000 contracted. I'm on Chapter Four and I'm still in the "first day."

(Photo is of --right to left -- Larry Leech, Cecil Murphey, and myself. Photo taken by Loyd Boldman)

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