Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Hazards of a Critique Group

In the last few months I've revamped the Creative Nonfiction Group that I'd previously established in the fall of 2006.

I went against my proven Morningside Method of advertising, screening, and recruiting writers because I had not proven myself as a moderator of a memoir or personal essay workshop. This was the wrong thing to do, and I wish I'd had someone to shake sense into me when I set about creating the new critique group.

The previous group had good writers who lacked commitment and focus, writers who habitually arrived late.

I felt out of control, but reminded myself to take deep breaths because that group was a new venture, and I wanted to distance it from my brainchild Morningside Writers Group, for whatever foolish reason. If it's not broken, don't fix it!

There will always be people who will not agree with my methods of organizing, scheduling, or moderating a group. I will not lose any sleep over these people. There's a group for everyone, and I have Morningside Writers Group as proof that the system works.

We use a critique form, a glass booth method, wherein each member gives the writer fifteen to twenty minutes of uninterrupted feedback. Writers looking for more of an open-ended, rambling feedback style would not feel comfortable with the structure in place.

Everyone's busy, and some people have short attention spans and tend to zone out when one has belabored a point.

I know I can't please everyone, and I won't try to.

I'm more concerned with finding an agent and publishing my growing essay collection as I figure out how to proceed with the first volume of a personal/family memoir.

1 comment:

Jim Misko said...

Hi Harlem Writer. Having founded the Alaska Writers Guild and the Alaska Writers Workshop, I now want to form a critique group of like minded and probably like genre authors who can do some good for each other for the time spent. I, like you, have asked several to join and they have agreed. What I don't know is how the group can function well, not eat up a ton of time, and can produce a synergy affect more useful than reading a book on writing. Any help would be appreciated.