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It looks like a gaggle of new starts is in the cards for me this week. Tuesday night I get to check out my new critique group, courtesy of fellow OCPFWW'er and Clarion West grad Alan Rousselle. I'm very excited to get back into the throes of a good group of writers and a little nervous at the same time. While it will be good to once again sit around and talk writing with fellow writers, after my most recent experience with a critique group I'm understandably punchy.

You know, I'm just looking to avoid negativity in my writing life right now. This is not to say that I can't handle a good thourough thrashing of my story during a critique, but I just don't want to end up spending time with disenchanted writers either. You know the type--they pop up in any kind of creative endeavor: "The publishers are all evil and the editors are all failed writers who don't want to see ANYONE succeed and they're all responsible for my setbacks . . ."

Now, I really don't expect to run into anybody like this at the critique group but I also worry about one other type of writer at these things: the "I HAVE to find something wrong with this story because if I don't then I'm not giving it my all," type or the "Jeez, I have to give a five minute critique and I can only find about a minute's worth of topic to discuss . . ." type.

Sometimes, it's perfectly acceptable to say, "I can't find anything I think you should change," or "I like this. It works for me."

I sincerely hope that they don't judge the quality of a critique by the quantity of a critique, if you catch my drift.

In addition, Alan called me up last night and offered me a spot in his weekly critique group. And while I'd love to have a weekly critique group as opposed to the monthly one I'm joining, I really have to think about this one hard. While being in the company of other writers is a serious creative aphrodisiac, it will take up roughly fifteen percent of my writing time every week. I'm not sure I'm willing to give up that much time behind the keyboard. It's a trade-off to be sure. I just have to figure out if it's an even trade.

You know, why can't there be a group out there that meets every two weeks? That would be perfect. It's a quick enough turn around time for making deadlines but it's also a minimal drain on the precious writing time.

Oh well. Can't have everything, I guess.

In addition, I finally nailed down the premise for my first novel.

You know, I'm primarily a short-story writer. I enjoy the form. It's a quick shot, a slap or a sharp stick in they eye, but it doesn't linger. It goes out, gets its job done and does it with cold, calculated efficiency. It's the contract killer of fiction whereas the novel is the malingerer. My problem is, I wanna get to the killin'!

But I found a story that truly fascinates me enough to want to discover how it ends. (Yes, that's right. I have no idea (well, a general idea) of how this will end up but I'm dying to go find out.)

So, Thursday night I get to dive in and wallow in the myth. This should be sooooo much fun I can't stand it.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of The Abyss.

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