” What am I doing here?”
“What role do I play in this group?”
“Do I even belong here?”
I would have never ventured into a writer’s critique group alone, but by a friend’s invitation, I attended my first group meeting, notebook, pen and ROUGH first chapter in hand. I pictured a smoke filled room filled with intellectuals, puffing on pipes and thumbing through their Nobel Prize winning works. I expected to take copious notes, soaking in whatever information I could from the writing veterans leading the group. I also expected I had nothing of value to offer a group like that; after all, who was I? As we went around the room, people introduced themselves and shared their current writing projects. As I listened, I leaned one important thing that night: they were just like me! Mostly everyone had never been published and had begun writing their first projects, equally unsure of their place in the writing field. I quickly realized that whether it was a word of encouragement of the strength of a writing piece, or a question to challenge the writer to think further, I did have something to offer. I walked away from the meeting encouraged that maybe, just maybe God had carved a special place for me in the writing world, with a message and style just for me.
I recently attended a second critique group for the first time. This time, I strolled with confidence into the room and took my seat, secure in the realization that I belonged there and proud of my accomplishments since that first group meeting. I have grown so much in my writing skills, both stylistically and contextually that I feel I can give intelligent and honest feedback to those around me. Although I have much more to learn, I’m proud to say that I am a better writer today than I was two short years ago. I achieved some of that growth on my own by engaging in the practice of writing and editing on a regular basis. But, I know that I would not have been as motivated to achieve my goals if I didn’t have a group of individuals moving in that same direction.
In my post ” Run the race with Perseverance,” I cited Hebrews 12:1-2 which says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” I mentioned that my main goal in writing is not to be published or to be the best writer that ever lived, but merely live in obedience to the call God has placed in my life. What is equally as striking about this verse is not only am I supposed to throw off “all that hinders” and run my race, but to do so in the presence of “a great cloud of witnesses.” If it were not for the group of people God had (or has) placed in my life to witness me running the race, I’m not as motivated to run the race marked out for me. I’m so thankful for all of the people God has placed in my life to help me in my writing journey. The accountability I receive helps me moving forward towards the finish line so i can get to my ultimate goal: Jesus.