When I completed my MFA in Creative Writing in 2011, for years afterward I felt a void with regard to my writing and garnering input from fellow writers. I yearned to be in a writer’s group – a critique group – where likeminded authors shared their work and offered and received feedback.
Two and a half years ago, I was invited into a group of fellow writers, people I’ve connected with through Instagram. I’ve been interacting with these women virtually since then, as we are writers from all over the United States, with one member in the United Kingdom. Not only are we all writers, but we are all published writers, and I value their feedback and input.
Last week, I had the good fortune of being on my critique partner’s podcast. Talented author Sayword Eller has a wonderful podcast for writers called About This Writing Thing, which is available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and via YouTube. It was an honor to be her first guest of the season. You can listen to our conversation about writing by clicking the link above.
Additionally, today I was able to meet author Colleen Young in person, another member of our critique group. Colleen lives in Florida and was in Baltimore on business. Luckily for us, we were able to sneak in a meal and good conversation, as we met in person for the first time. We talked about writing, traveling, children, jobs, and even about Instagram tips for writers. It was so good to see her in person and not through a screen.
Finally, last year when I wrote From Humbug to Humble: The Transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, author and member of the critique group, Megan Musgrove, our resident U.K. writer, willingly edited my Scrooge book to make sure it sounded “British” and not American. I was certainly thrilled and grateful to have her eyes on it.
For all the talk about social media, and as we weigh its positives and negatives, there are certainly good things that can come from it, namely these types of friendships. It’s a great way to make friends with like-minded people, or people with the same interests as you, for sure. Social media has the power to bring people together. It brought our whole group together, as well as our other members, authors Dana Armstrong and Jeré Anthony.
I’m thankful for my critique group because they hold me accountable for writing, they offer wonderful suggestions for character and plot development, and they understand this tough business—”this writing thing”—as Sayword calls it. And we can all relate to each other because we know what it’s like to navigate this writing thing one step at a time.
STEPHANIE VERNI is the author of THE LETTERS IN THE BOOKS; FROM HUMBUG TO HUMBLE: THE TRANSFORMATION OF EBENEZER SCROOGE; BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE; INN SIGNIFICANT; LITTLE MILESTONES; THE POSTCARD; and ANNA IN TUSCANY. She is also a co-author of the textbook, EVENT PLANNING: COMMUNICATING THEORY & PRACTICE. Currently an adjunct professor at Stevenson University Online, she instructs communication courses for undergraduate and graduate students. She and her husband reside in Severna Park, Maryland, and have two children. On the side, she enjoys fashion and writing travel articles for marylandroadtrips.com.