Thursday, July 23, 2009

Critique groups in non-artsy-fartsy states/areas

Last time I blogged about whether to enroll in an MFA program. (OK, so maybe that should be a MFA program. But I’ve never been able to figure out the correct way. It makes more sense to use “an” to me.) Today I’m going to talk about my other problem. (My other writing-related problem that is. Trust me. I’ve got lots of problems you don’t need to hear about.) I live in a very non-artsy-fartsy area of the United States. I foresee living here for the next couple of years at the very least. I’m currently looking for a job and will likely end up working at the Olive Garden. (I’m writing this before my job interview that I have lined up so that could have changed.) The only thing I could find on a recent search of the local arts council webpage was a lot of stuff promoting local art galleries. Don’t get me wrong, I love art, it’s inspired an entire chapbook of poetry, but it’s not what I need. What I need is a critique group. Not right this very minute, mind you, but I will need one soon.

I have no idea where to begin to look for one. Writing is apparently a dying art that no one but those of us trying to keep it alive care about. There’s not anything but a very outdated poetry reading listed on the local arts council website. (And even that was incredibly difficult for my not-so-computer-savvy brain to find.) I really do better in a more workshop setting, where I can see the people face-to-face when they critique my work. I think that face-to-face you’re more likely to get constructive feedback instead of someone absolutely vilifying your work if they don’t like you or it and they want to hide behind the anonymity of the internet. (I’m one to talk, right? *eyeroll*)

Am I going to be forced to relocate for my chosen craft? Or do I just bite the bullet and try to find an online group that I can work with? Like I said, I do better in person than over the internet. Decisions, decisions.


  1. Do you have any local chapters of groups such as the Romance Writers of America? If they don't have a critique group attached to them, they probably would have the inside info if there is one around.

    Your post is making me kick myself because I've been too chicken to join the critique group here, which is amazing. One of their members just won a RITA for YA and they have a number of successful published authors in the group. I need to be more thankful for living somewhere that has this as an option and get over my shyness and use it. Grr.

  2. I have no idea about that. And I don't even know which society I'd associate myself with. I need a crit group for my poetry and for my fiction. But if these associations have fees to join, I can't right at the moment. *sniff*

    Good luck finding a crit group, Groupie!

    And thanks for the suggestions! I'll definitely have to look into it.

  3. If you are writing Middle Grade or YA, the society you need to hook up with is the SCBWI (Society of childrens book writers and illustrators). Their websit is There is a fee to be an official member, BUT not to be in one of their local chapter critique groups. You need to find out where your local chapter is, who the RA is and then contact her/him and ask about critique groups.

    You can do that online at their website or e mail me at tesshilmo(at)comcast(dot)net and let me know what state you are in and I will look it up in my book and tell you who the contact is.

    You definitely have some options!

  4. Thanks, Tess! I'll definitely have to look them up. You're a peach!



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