Thursday, December 29, 2011

With MORE Love to My Writing Group

Many years ago, a fellow Boulder Montessori preschool mom told me that she was interested in writing children's books. Did I have any advice to give her on how to get published? Yes, I told her. Step one is to find yourself a writing group to critique your manuscripts before you start sending them out. She drew herself up, affronted. "I KNOW how to WRITE," she said icily.

Well, I know how to write, too, and I've been in a writing group for almost my entire career, learning how to write better. Another writer friend of mine, a Newbery medalist and mega-best-selling author, has been in a writing group for all of her career, learning how to write better. Perhaps needless to say, this mom who didn't need a writing group has never been published. And I still continue to meet with my beloved Boulder writing group, grateful for every suggestion that falls from their often-critical lips.

Right now I'm wrestling with what at first seemed two opposing sets of criticisms on my new book/series in progress. One friend loved the particular book manuscript but thought the series concept was "forced" and "weak." Another loved the series concept but thought the particular manuscript I had completed featured an unlikeable main character and was pitched at too high a reading level for the intended audience, with not enough lively action and too much quiet introspection.

At first I felt like shrieking and falling into a helpless faint on the floor.

But then I had tea with Phyllis, and together we figured out how to fix the series concept completely with two small, easy, but wonderful changes. This morning I'm having tea with Leslie to brainstorm how to deal with her worries about the story.

This project is going to be a thousand times better just from these two sets of comments, and I'm still awaiting comments from the rest of the brilliant insightful group.

I DO know how to write. And it's my writing group who taught me how to write. And who continue to teach me.


  1. In my opinion, by the way, I don't there are enough higher level books with plots appropriate for a younger child and vice versa. Q, age 8, reads years above grade level, but I would rather not exposure him to the middle school content yet. E, almost 11, struggles to read at her grade level, but is socially interested in and ready for older content. Reading the content at her reading level is boring for her, while reading the words at Q's content appropriate level leaves him unchallenged. I wish someone would put together a website with useful lists of books with content, reading levels, & whether they spoil the content of Santa (think Little House and SuperFudge). The book lusts out there are much too generic to be helpful!