Confessions of a Critique Partner: Joann

Let me start off this “Confession” post by letting you know that Joann from over at Laundry Hurts My Feelings is my fabulous Crit Partner and then by assuring you that when I asked her to write a confession about being my Crit Partner… this was not what I expected and am extremely flattered.
So, here’s Joann:

Since, I’m here to confess today, I might as well give you a whopping big confession.

I’ve written a novel. I’ve labored long and hard over my novel. I’ve sweated, what feels like blood, at times. I’ve given up a lot of living in the pursuit of these words of mine. I’ve far too often, cried in frustration. I’ve lain awake at night, my head filled with plot lines and revisions. But more than all of those tough moments put together, I’ve been euphoric, filled with a writerly joy, on the days when the words just tumbled out of me, my hands flying at super speed to catch them. And I have never felt prouder of an accomplishment than when I was able to write those two little words, The End.

And that’s not even my confession.

It’s this: I could not have done any of it, without the incomparable A.B. Keuser.

From the beginning, I have had this great circle of readers composed of family and friends. Their suggestions and critiques were an invaluable part of my writing process. And even though I will be forever grateful to them for giving me a reader’s viewpoint, one of the most crucial opinions in the literary world, none of them were writers.

I knew my novel needed a writer’s sharp eye.

But, I didn’t need just any writer’s eye. I needed a writer I could trust; who would be willing to sacrifice her own valuable time to pore over my words as carefully as if it were her prenup to Donald Trump; a writer who had my best interest in mind; a writer who could help me shape my novel into something marketable, something that would attract an agent’s eye.

And that is when A.B. Keuser came to the rescue.

We befriended each other in the blog world, through an unfortunate incident I had with a query—a dismal story for another day. She took my sad little query in her capable hands and shaped it up as easily as if she were making one of those snakes from Play-Doh, (the only thing I know how to do with Play-Doh) and out of that query, a friendship and a partnership were born.

A.B. and I became each other’s critique partners.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled to delve into A.B.’s world, so different from the one I’d created. As I read her manuscript, line by line, poring over each word, each punctuation mark, each idea, I oftentimes grew impatient, wanting to fly through the words to see what was around the corner in her tale of otherworldly suspense, thrills and danger.

I hope my suggestions and critiques helped her. But my input was so inconsequential, compared to what she gave me.

She took my novel and pulled it apart and said, “This needs to be put back together again, like this . . .” And after countless back and forth emails, her patiently explaining to me exactly what my novel needed, she finally ordered me, (with kindness), to Just. Do. It.

And so I did.

And that novel of mine was so much better for it. It now had this cadenced flow it had been missing before, something I’d been too blinded to notice.

You see, as writers, our novels are our babies. And since we gave birth to these creations, we are hard pressed to see the flaws in those pages.

Putting your novel in the hands of another capable writer is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself and for your writing.

I am relieved and proud to say my novel is headed out to the land of agent querying, a whole new journey in this writing process for me.

I wouldn’t be able to say those words, if it wasn’t for A. B. Keuser.

Seriously.

If she ever wants to give up her day job, she has a promising future as an editor and writer, of course. She could crown herself the title, The Wizard of Writing. I’d buy her a sparkly wand. That’s all she would need, because her masterful eye and her innate grasp of knowing what works and what doesn’t, is a gift.

And this writer will be forever grateful for The Wizard of Writing’s gift.

If you are a writer, my biggest piece of advice, besides be true to the voice that lives inside your head, would be to find a great critique partner, one who knows a thing or two about writing.

But don’t set your sights on A.B. Keuser. She’s mine. And she knows all the secrets.
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