On Partnerships (part I)
I left the last permanent critique group I was in a few years ago. My schedule was busy and a lot of the comments I got back ran the gamut from “this is really good” to “this is grammatically incorrect (said about first-person narrative, which is almost dialogue).” The first isn’t helpful. The second is a critique I’d have given once upon a time.
Since then, with a couple notable exceptions, I’ve been a lone writer. Toil, toil, toil. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And no one else really reads it.
That should be changing in a couple weeks. For the first time, I have a writing partner and it’s something I’m very excited about. This is an accomplished writer whose work I’ve read and enjoyed. (My partner has no such assurance from my work, so hopefully I’ve stepped up my game a notch.)
Nobody does it alone.
From JK Rowling to Stephen King to the guy who seems to have a column every day in your local paper, everyone has had help. They’ve had mentors and partners and cheerleaders.
I’m lucky to have and have had a few along the way, too. But they’re often fleeting–not writers I’ve struck up a long-term writerly relationship with. I’m hoping this will be different, though open to the possibility it will go through its paces and then dissolve, as well. Ideally, the end product will be better work from both of us.
Entering into any relationship, it’s important to know and understand your goals. As a beginner, you want to get better, but ego-protection is important, too. If your first critique starts with “This really doesn’t work for my on any level,” your fears of what if I suck? are violently confirmed.
If you’re looking to make the next big step, the same critique isn’t exciting or even welcome, but it’s probably the medicine that you need. Still, I hope not to hear it when my new partnership starts.
Having a writing partner is a new experience for me. Some of the dialogue will be personal–part of a trusting relationship between two writers–and not for discussion here. Some of it will open my eyes–and hopefully, my partner’s–and will be appropriate to discuss.
No matter what happens, it’s a risky and exhilarating thing to start such a relationship.
I can’t wait.