Sunday, September 26, 2010

Starting off the year with a bang

Starting off the year with a bang

This year I was the one to bring our “family-got-together-so-let’s-play-football” game to an early end when my nose collided with the hard head of my six year old and I fell on the ground in agony. Nose injuries have a special kind of hurt that makes your whole body scream in pain.

Being felled by a six year old didn’t help the matter. If it had been my forty-year-old brother-in-law it would have been easier to bear, or even my fourteen-year-old nephew. Thankfully I didn’t break it, although I imagine it will take a few weeks for it to feel back to normal.

The injury made me think of a writing article I’d read that same day. In it the author described a bitter experience she had had with a critique group. She left the group feeling like she’d collided with the others and would take some time to recover.

My bruised nose and I can see her point. Writing groups have a potential to injure those involved. If you get too close to a piece, feel your professionalism has been questioned, or someone has been particularly harsh in their criticism it can hurt. And like a nose injury, there is a unique pain. The pain can take some time to get over. I’ve run into more than one hard head of a well meaning critique-er myself, and I’ve seen others do the same and walk away in agony, or never come back.

Let’s put this in perspective, though. This nose injury isn’t the only recollection I have of football, nor are the bumps and collisions all I remember from critique meetings. There have been the occasional awesome plays I think of with a smile, the last minute comebacks and the unbelievable touchdowns, just like there have some great moments in critique when a comment I’ve wrestled with for months came clear, or the advice I received turned out to be exactly what I needed. Those are the moments when my writing gets transformed.

As a member of SCBWI there can be moments of pain while we work together for our individual achievements. In those moments, let’s not forget the other moments, the ones of triumph. Throughout 2009, be on the lookout for challenges, advice, and clarification. Though there may be bruises along the way, there will be triumphs too. My year started out with a bang of sorts, but before it’s over I hope to see more than one triumph.

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