In a global world one country's celebration can feel very close and yesterday lots of people were sharing the things that they were thankful for. One of the things from the past year that I am thankful for is my CP group. In the aftermath of NV11 if I had one piece of advice for any aspiring writer it would be this: get yourself a good Critique Partner.
We all need cheerleaders at times. We all have those moments when we need someone to tell us that they believe (am I the only one who tears up at the beginning of HSM3 when it all slows down and the spotlight is on Gabriella as she sings 'Troy!' and he looks up at her and says 'Sometimes I can hardly breathe?' and she tells him 'You can do it just know that I believe.' Yes? Okay then. But, romance writers, it is the perfect moment - he can only be strong because she believes in him, the arc of all three films. I also sob through Soaring Flying.).
When I first started writing six years ago I was alone. My husband would read it if I begged him too and nodded sagely with a 'very good, dear' in the manner of some seventies sitcom husband leaving me feeling like Wendy Craig. No wonder I submitted just three chapters in two years although I did do an enormous amount of reading; ahem, research. Really it's only been in the last year that I have taken writing really seriously.
There's a few reasons for that - the online competitions, joining the RNA, the course I did with Jessica Hart, these have all been great boosts adding to my knowledge and confidence. The main reason however has been my own personal cheerleaders.
The internet is a strange and wonderful thing allowing you to connect with people all over the world, people you may never meet. New Voices 2010 was the first time I really shared my writing with anyone.
Suddenly I connected with lots of people through FB & Twitter - published authors, aspiring authors, newbies; all knowing exactly how it feels to sit down at a blank screen and push yourself to write something. People to talk ideas through with, to get enthusiastic, to ask questions, to point out massive plot holes or small typos.
Gradually, through the craziness of last year's Nano and as I made the first steps into Summer Fling I began to rely on a small group more and more. Their enthusiasm, honesty and kindliness pushed and supported me as I doubted, angsted, panicked and procrastinated. They are my cheerleaders - and I do my best to return the favour as they are also a very talented trio who I know will be published one day
We're far apart geographically but meet up to chat, critique, gossip, reassure, celebrate, share learnings every day. I would never have come this far without them. Thanks Julia, Jane and Maggie xxx