On critique partners

So I was feeling brave and sent a request out into the Twitterverse for a critique partner. I honestly don’t know what came over me. Maybe it had something to do with my self-doubt. Maybe I needed someone to tell me that my writing was okay, and that I shouldn’t give up. Heck, maybe my ego was feeling a bit deflated and needed a boost. I don’t know, but I did it anyway.

Within the hour I had myself a bonafide CP, a certain Mr J. M. Bray, ready to take the first part of my messy manuscript into his very capable hands. That’s when the terror hit me, square in the chest. Oh my goodness! What have I done! This was all I could think for the next day. My heart felt like lead in my chest and I felt like I was going to break down in an all out panic attack at any moment. Why did I think I was ready for this? Why did I think my manuscript was ready for this?

I was still in bed, trying to break through my morning fog, when my phone tinkled, signalling that I had received an email. Not uncommon by any standards. I get many emails during the night and early in the morning. All day even (well, imagine that). I did what I would normally do of a morning. I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear my fogged up contact lenses without rubbing too hard and losing them behind my eyeballs, and opened up the email on my phone. What I read was enough to make me leap out of bed and race to the study to have a proper look at my inbox. There, sitting nice and bold on the top of my inbox, was a new email from my critique partner.

I sucked in a breath and held it, my heart leaping into my throat in horror. Oh my gosh! He’s read it and he’s probably going to tell me it stinks and I need to quit…NOW! Woodenly, I sat down in my big vinyl computer chair and laid my sweaty palm on the mouse. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make my finger click the mouse button to open the email. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and took in another big breath, blowing it out softly through pursed lips.

“Uh, you right?” my hubby asked in his sexy Aussie drawl, making me jump almost clean out of my skin.

“Fine, just fine…my contact slipped and I was trying to move it back into place.” This was sort of true. They do that early in the morning and closing my eyes helps sometimes.

“Okay, whatever,” my hubby replied with a quizzical expression.

As soon as he walked away I forced myself to open the email. Stop being such a melodramatic princess. If it sucks, then at least you know before you released it out into the world to be ripped to shreds by the general public. True, but still, I was afraid of what the email would say.

I read the email, tears welling as I was sure it would be full of negative comments. Wait, hang on…what? I read it again, more slowly this time, and my breathing hitched as the tears started to slide down my cheeks. These were not tears of sadness or hurt feelings, these were tears of pure joy. My work was okay. Sure, it had holes and glaringly obvious errors in the story line, but it was fixable and workable.

Now I can’t wait for Mr. Bray to email me with more of his comments on my work as he goes through it. Sure, sharing your work with someone, and having it picked at is hard. That work is your baby that you’ve spent hours, days, weeks, months, heck, even years working on and you can tend to be a bit protective of it. Trust me though, it is much better to have it done behind closed doors, than have the public do it in front of the world.

So, in summary, yes, it is most terrifying asking for someone to critique your work for you, but it is also sooooo worth it. If you consider yourself a writer, then I suggest you get yourself a CP, have a good hard think about the constructive criticism they give you, and then,

Suck it up, Princess!