Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sew Needy

I'm going to do it. Yep. I'm going to get me a new sewing machine. Now, while this might not sound like a huge deal to most of you, let me tell you that for me, it is a very huge deal.

You see, I don't like to sew. Let me clarify that. I HATE to sew. I despise it. So much that I GAVE my other sewing machine away. In fact, I paid to have it shipped clear across the USA to the east coast. That's how much I hate sewing.

So, why am I getting another machine? Because I have been forced to admit that I cannot do some of this repair work on clothes by hand. I need help. Mechanical help. Another mocking monster in the backroom.

Sometimes my writing is like that. I need help. Something to make me realize that I can't do this alone. I need input, someone to spur me on. A cheering squad of a kind. Not that they always have to be positive - nothing was ever gained by just having everyone clap and nod and smile and say "it's perfect". Nothing is ever perfect. There is always something we can improve on. Especially with writing.

I need a critique group. A real, face-to-face group of people who can coax me in the right direction. A group who can get me excited about creating once again. And that is not an easy task, really.

There are several groups that meet around me. But one meets at a local restaurant. I just can't think about writing when I'm listening to the clitter-clatter of silverware on plate, of slurping and sipping, of kids little high-pitched voices asking for more juice or complaining about why they have to eat their veggies.

Another group met in the library, where I was afraid to speak up, lest the librarian rush over and shush me. And the content of my WIP was such that I was a little worried about just whom might be listening in the next aisle over.

Years back, I was with a group that met in a writing instructors home. It wasn't a huge group, but it worked out wonderfully. We read aloud from our WIP, which is a tremendous help to me. I need to hear my words. It helps me see where I might need to clarify, which words I used too much, which ones I use wrong, etc. And, because it was in a home, with no outside distractions, I could be at ease with my words.

Most of the groups that I've looked into now are more electronic than I want to be. They send in their chapters, everyone reads and they get together to discuss the WIP, not to hear it. For some reason, that doesn't work for me. I need to hear it, mine and the others. Sure, reading along is ok, but I still like to hear the words.

So, I wait. For that elusive grouping of people of like mind. Face to face. Speaking. Reading. Offering help.

Much like my little sewing machine. I have to make peace with the silly thing in order to move forward. Just as I have to make peace with the way things are done now in critique groups in order to move forward. Buying a sewing machine is so much easier. I think. Or it might find its way to the east coast, too.


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  2. I've had critique groups in all of the above. Right now I love my on-line group. I was in one group that meet at my writing teacher's home. That lasted for over 4 years. I left when I felt it was time to branch out. I'm thinking of going back through next Spring.

    I think it all depends on what you're comfortable with. I left one group because I felt they didn't 'get' YA. I'd get many comments that my writing was too edgy and raw for teens. Or my main character had a mouth on her. I even changed her to the point one editor told me, "What fourteen year old doesn't have a mouth?" He had a point.

    **I also tape myself, so I can hear my words. That helps too

  3. Great post. I never was in a critique group until three years ago. It's Online and I've made such great friends. They've also helped with my stories. Right now, everyone's really busy and we're not getting much done. Hopefully, that will change this fall.

    My other group is also Online. It's small, but very helpful.

    I'd love to join a face-to-face group, but there aren't any locally, as far as I know.

    I taped myself once, Kim, but hated the way I sounded so don't do that anymore. :)

  4. I'm with you, Beverly. I can't stand the sound of my own voice on recorded things. Live, I can handle it, but I sound really weird when recorded. I will continue to look for a group that I can be comfortable with in real life. I've done the online groups and for some reason, I just can't connect that way.

  5. You heard my recent radio interview, right? I have such a little girl voice. I also talk really fast. What helped me is taping myself to help me with slowing down when I spoke. I totally swear by doing this. When I was younger I stuttered because of how fast I spoke. Taping myself has helped me learn to speak slower. Also I catch when my sentences sound awkward or don't flow.

    That's just me though.

  6. Now one thing that I don't like is getting videotaped. One reason why I haven't used a webcam though more than a few people have asked me too.

  7. This was a very interesting post. I liked the comparison of needing a sewing machine to get some jobs done with needing a critique group to help move ones writing along.

    I don't belong to a critique group, yet. I do want to eventually find a critique group, but not sure which way I'll feel more comfortable. There seem to be pros and cons of both online groups and face-to-face groups.

    Recording yourself as you read the story sounds like a good way of catching where the words stumble along or don't sound quite right. I don't like how I sound when I'm recorded, but I can overlook how my voice sounds if it helps catch things that need to be corrected in my story.