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Cindy L. Freeman – Cooperative Mentoring

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I stopped blogging for a year or so to work on a new novel. The working title is I Want to Go Home. My goal is to finish it in time for publication this year.

Now, my publisher, Jeanne Johansen of High Tide Publications, is encouraging (translation: compelling) her authors to write a weekly blog. Why? She says it connects us with our readers, allowing them to get to know us. Well, that’s what I’m afraid of. Like many authors, I’m an introvert. We introverts prefer to “keep ourselves to ourselves” as the British say. The fear is that if you get to know me, you won’t like what you see, or you’ll use my transparency against me. It’s called vulnerability and it’s scary. But, I have been given an assignment and I must be an obedient student.

So, here goes. Last year, I joined a critique group. Talk about scary! Talk about vulnerability! Imagine taking your precious baby, the fruit of your womb, into a room of eight-or-so other parents who have also brought their babies . . . to discern every flaw and point it out to each other.

Already you’re feeling insecure because you don’t trust your inexperienced parenting. You’ve only been parenting for a short time and you feel ill-prepared. If truth be told, you feel like an imposter. You’re sure someone will notice (and point out) your baby’s big ears or crooked smile. Someone else will draw attention to how your baby has gas because of the way you’re holding her. Another might suggest you should be breastfeeding instead of bottle-feeding and if you’re bottle-feeding, you’re using the wrong formula. Someone will try to change your style of parenting because you’re telling, not showing your love or because your baby will surely not become a successful adult unless you develop her character.

Yes, we criticize each other’s “babies,” but it’s not personal and it’s not vicious—okay, sometimes it’s a little vicious. Each of us brings to the group a unique perspective, arising from varying life experiences. We try to shed light on each other’s writing, whether it be simple aspects like grammar, punctuation, or spelling, or more in-depth issues of character profile, plot development, or point of view.

Why are we willing to submit ourselves and our literary “babies” to this criticism? The purpose of our comments is to help each other improve our writing skills and succeed as authors. That’s what Jeanne refers to as cross collateralization. See, Jeanne? I was listening. It’s what I call cooperative mentoring. It means that when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. I like that.

Cindy Freeman

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of Diary in the AtticUnrevealed (recently re-written; second edition to be released soon) and The Dark Room (Don’t let the title scare you; it has a happy ending).

Tune in next week for a sneak preview of I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com

 

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