My mom agreed. “You look happier than you did ten minutes ago.”
Ten minutes ago, I guess I’d been a bit stressed by trying to condense my two-and-a-half page synopsis into two pages for the gracious author assigned to critique my manuscript at an upcoming writers conference. I have cut thousands upon thousands of words out of my writing in my life so far, but it doesn’t seem to get much easier.
I tried to think why I might look happier. “Oh. I’ve been reading emails from my critique partners.” That was it.
I had received emails from all three of these ladies that evening. They weren’t responses to chapters of my own novel that I’d sent them (since I haven’t sent them anything lately! Need to get on that…), though that always gets me excited—just responses to my comments on theirs, chatty emails about writing and life and prayer requests. But it’s true; it always perks my spirits to hear from my critique partners, this gift of a group whom my sister suggested are my “Typlings,” as opposed to Lewis and Tolkien’s “Inklings.” Seeing one of their names in my inbox sends a certain happy ripple through my heart.
Six months ago, I didn’t know these women—had never even heard their names. We were a shy and nervous bunch who gathered in a fireside room at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference last April, the Head Start Mentoring group assigned to one of my favorite authors, Lauraine Snelling. That first evening, as Lauraine coached our stumbles through our book pitches, I had no idea these ladies would become such a significant part of my life.
A few days later, we were sitting together at meals, in workshops, and in the Palm Sunday Service. I hope I never forget how Lauraine passed our pew on her way back from taking communion, squeezed the shoulder of the group member nearest her, and said, “Pass the hug down.” We jabbered about our stories and exchanged contact info, determined to stay in touch. And, by God’s grace, we have. Only a few days after we returned home from the conference, the chapters and emails began flying back and forth—and so far, they haven’t stopped.
To be continued…