Please secure your own mask before helping others

As you can probably deduce by the length of time since my last post, I’m a smidge overwhelmed at the moment.  I have resumed writing (yay!) and also joined a second critique group.  I’ve been with an in-person critique group for years (we’ve gone through a couple evolutions, but some of the core people are still there) and really enjoy our every-other-week meetings.  Sometimes we meet at a house (usually mine), sometimes we Skype.  But it’s face time with fellow writers, reading stories that I want to help nurture and grow so they can be sent out into the world and make loads of money for my friends and I get a note in the acknowledgments.

A couple months ago, a former professor of mine said she was starting an online critique group.  I leapt at the chance to join this; she runs a wonderful class and I was really looking forward to getting feedback from her and the other people she invited to join.  However, I soon found what I’d long suspected: online critique groups are not for me.  I like being able to talk about the stories; trying to compress everything into “Track Changes” on Word and a couple paragraphs just wasn’t working for me.  I managed to keep up with the critiques, then got very overwhelmed with things in September with various life events.  I kept having to put off and put off writing the critiques and the longer I did so the more they weighed on my mind.  I couldn’t write because I felt guilty not responding to people who’d offered me such wonderful feedback with wonderful feedback of my own.  I spent two hours today holed up in my office working on critiques and still have two more to go.  I came to the conclusion that, even if feedback is reciprocal, I can’t take on too many critiques.  

So with a heavy heart I emailed the online critique group and explained that I was unable to continue with group, at least at the present time.  I do hope to rejoin at some point in the future; we have a LOT going on in our lives now, plus I am staring at the contest deadline.  But if the purpose of a critique group is to help with your writing, what good is it if you get so overwhelmed with other people’s manuscripts that you neglect or, far worse, are unable to write your own?   I’ll finish up these last two,  because they weigh on me so much I find myself incapable of working on my own things, and then return to my own work and my ONE critique group.  Two is just too many.

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