Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Tale of a Ten Year Critique Group




February was our tenth anniversary. I didn't know it. Leora Krygier showed up with three little gifts in those delicate mesh tie-bags. Each contained candles, votives in zen-like frosted cups. It was our critique group's tenth anniversary. Phyllis Gebauer, one of UCLA's renowned writers' program instructors, had put us together ten years ago. We lost Iris Fabrikant to the land of cherry trees and monuments but the test of us, Leora, JayCe Crawford and I stayed intact.

Phyllis came to our first meeting -- to get us started with correct critique procedure. No, she didn't charge us. It was value-added teaching, the UCLA Writers' Program way. (-: Then, about a year ago, Phyllis asked to be part of us. Naturally we were flattered to be considered suitable critique partners for our mentor! She had always been with us, of course.

Our mode of meeting has changed over the years but our approach to our craft has been nearly the same. Tough. Loving. Accepting. Appreciative. No punches pulled. Everyone loving it. It has only gotten better with age.

Ten years. Oh, the changes we've seen. In our careers. In our writing. In our personal lives. Such friendships are one of the many blessings that writing carries with it. Writing, as you see, can be pure magic.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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