I threw that warning in the title because I realize we live in a time where we are compelled by instinct to seek support. To find someone in our corner who we believe are behind us. And as such, my story was not written with the purpose of influencing another story.
Now I forget where I'm supposed to put this notice: "Looking Back Looking Forward," but will drop it here to let readers know this post was inspired by another post I happened to catch on SHE WRITES. The post asked that bloggers write their own 'looking back, looking forward' post, which I did a week or so ago, but got caught up and didn't have a chance to post until today.
On my look back I recall the time when I thought about joining a writer's critique group. My purpose was to connect with others who enjoyed writing like I do. But I never joined the critique group, and later lost interest in ever joining a writer-critique group.
Initially my loss in interest was because the membership fees were steeper than I wanted to afford, alongside not being remotely interested in driving 20 additional miles (to and fro) another location. Traffic was horrendous enough just getting back and forth to work. My thoughts wouldn't be worth the gravel I rode over by the time I got there.
Years later I was glad I didn't join. And so now here's why I really added the warning.
I respect writers and authors, and support them like almost no other. I, however, find writing, and especially writing novels as was my goal to do, a very interpersonal, solitaire, individual experience. Back then, when I first thought about joining a group, after souring on the extra driving, I did ask myself, "why in the world would you want to sit in a group and have people throwing sticks and stones at you telling you how, and what you should and shouldn't do to *create* your body of work?"
This thought had nothing to do with thin or thick skin, which my skin happens to be pretty thick. Ask around. That's the one thing I'm sure I have an ample supply. I've received more advice and critiques than shoes, purses, cash... why even more than a simple 'hello.' I'm positive I wouldn't have buckled even back then, whether I was given critical tips and hints, or flat out told maybe I should look into becoming an auto mechanic. You know, to do something else more useful with my hands. Even if everyone in the group loved my writing, which I big-headedly back then believed everyone would, I still saw a vice in getting that influence. That's what I thought then.
I've changed my tune since then. Oh yes, I've done changed that number. Now I'm standing pigeon-toed bow-legged wide adding more mustard to the sauce. I'm glad I didn't allow anyone to persuade or influence my writing at such an impressionable time. Those obstacles were in my path for a reason.
I firmly believe that authentic unique voices come from, not only strange deep dark isolated places, but from a creativity that is raw, untamed, and without outside influences that make it look like all the rest. This is not to dissuade us writers and authors from socializing and networking, but rather quite to the contrary.
Let's have a cup of tea, or coffee, or whatever is your beverage of choice... I love Wild Irish, and White Russians, and Black Velvet... so I'm sure I won't be picky about your choice of drink. We can chat about our children, or pets, or laugh ourselves silly slipping off barstools. I'll even attend your conferences and speaker events, and buy and read your books, and tell you *then* what I *really* think. Maybe you won't even mind me showing up at one of your parties to share some of my good old-fashioned type of fun too. But I will not, and shall not, tell you how to write.