What happens next…


Paula’s Post #30 – Officially, our 5writers challenge ended on February 5th, 2013 when we all hit the ‘send’ button and rocketed our manuscripts into cyberspace, whether complete or incomplete.

Unofficially, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, most of us just kept on writing (or rewriting) at least in fits and spurts, readying our manuscripts for ‘Phase Two’ of our challenge, the ‘Critique Retreat’ set to commence June 15th, 2013.

Kind of a catchy name, don’t you think? Critique Retreat.

Though our Critique Retreat is not set to happen for at least another two months, here in 5writersville, anticipation and angst are mounting at an alarming rate as we start to contemplate the enormity of the task at hand: reading and critiquing four, full length manuscripts, one for each of the other members of our group.

A task that must be completed between now and June 15th.

Four books by June 15th!

Oh, but did I mention that, other than poster boy Joe, most of us are still polishing our drafts until the deadline of all deadlines, May 15th?

So, in reality five weeks to read and critique Joe’s novel, another month after that to read and critique three more novels.

Sorry Joe, you win the prize for being at the head of the class. You get to read and critique all four of your sister-writers’ novels between May 15th and June 15th.

Easy Peasy. right?

The sheer physical task, though daunting, is not the most frightening aspect of the next phase of our challenge. By now, we’ve got a lot invested in this game. Maybe more than any of us envisioned at the outset. Over the years we’ve been together as a group, we’ve developed more than just professional respect for one another, we’ve developed genuine friendships.

Will our friendships, so important to all of us, endure and survive the Critique Retreat?

Is there some enveloping cocoon we can wrap ourselves in to ensure that little damage is done to fragile egos and delicate psyches?

What should the ground rules be?

I’m not going to try to give you all the answers, nor break the sanctity of the 5writers circle to share all that we’ve been discussing, but I can tell you that we’re worried.

We have some ideas for ways to make sure this process is helpful, not harmful. The last thing we want is to inflict irreparable harm or damage someone’s love of writing.

I suspect that many of our readers are or have been in a writing or critique group, or something similar. If so, maybe you have some ideas you’d like to share with us, beyond the obvious: take away shoelaces and belts, no knives or scissors, group hugs after every session, no matter what. Have any tips?

Help us out here!

Oh, and guess what?

I’ve started to read!

So exciting!

I haven’t finished my own edits yet. My book isn’t done-done, I haven’t completed all my revisions, but who cares? I picked up Joe’s manuscript on Saturday. I’m 200 pages in already and….

Well, I can’t tell you about it, not yet. But you might have noticed that this is the shortest post I’ve ever written!

I’ve got to get back to Joe’s book.

I need to find out what happens next!

2 thoughts on “What happens next…

  1. I may have an occupational disability, but the more I learn about the Critique Retreat, the more I think it’s the road to homicide. (Manslaughter more precisely, Paula. Everyone’s posts will support heat of passion for those that survive.) I don’t know why you don’t just email your critiques to each other and save yourselves the bail money and attorney’s fees.

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