Monday, August 13, 2007

A Pretty Good Monday

You know it's going to be a pretty good Monday when it starts off the way mine did today. For those of you who don't remember this, I'm a librarian, and a fairly new one at that. The library director came to my office first thing and asked me to meet with a book vendor with her. So we sat for over an hour previewing and ordering books. Lots and lots of books. I was like a kid in a candy store. When I heard our total bill, I nearly fell over. The director had to remind me--this is what we're supposed to do! Do I have a great job or what?

I generally try to post pretty early on a Monday because I feel guilty for neglecting my blogging duties all weekend. But I decided to try something revolutionary tonight. I decided to--gasp!--work on my novel before my blog. I told myself I would only be allowed to blog after my 1000 words on my manuscript were done. I just checked my word count--1108. Yes!

It's funny how the accountability aspect of the blog keeps me more disciplined. When I started this site, I decided I would post three days a week minimum. When I'm late, I feel my readers drifting away and giving up on me. So I hurry on back. Last year, my agent had me on a deadline for the chick lit novel I was working on, so I mustered up some discipline and finished it in record time. On my current project I just haven't had enough accountability because, well...how do I put this delicately. No one cares but me. And sometimes I wonder about me.

I guess that's one reason people have critique groups and critique partners. It makes a difference if you know someone is waiting for you to produce something for them to read. I've never had luck finding a group or a partner. Of course, I haven't looked very hard. For one thing, my stories change so much in the first draft stage that I'm afraid no reader could keep up. Also, considering how hard it is for me to find time to write at all, I wonder if I could handle reading other people's work on a regular basis, too. It might be like the blog. I'd end up blogging and critiquing but doing even less writing of my own.

In the American Christian Fiction Writers Group I'm in, most folks seem to think that crit groups and partners are invaluable. Years ago I took part in a writing workshop led by Orson Scott Card, and he thought we all needed to be in a critique group.

So it surprised me to hear Stephen King say, in On Writing, that you should never let anyone read any part of your first draft. No one--not even the spouse that might be footing the bills to allow you to write. He held that questions and opinions would only confuse you in that early stage, and you'd veer off course and lose your vision.

What do you writers out there think? Do you have critique groups and partners? Do you workshop your novels even in the first draft? And how does it affect the time you have available for your own writing?