I can't say it enough. I love critiques. I love critiquing. I can think of nothing that's inspired my writing more than critiques and critiquing. Whether I'm critiquing a novel, a chapter, a story, or even a poem, it's like crack to me. I can't get enough.
While simmering in critiques for my last novel - the one I'm thinking of self-publishing - the proverbial faucet turned on. Hard. Where my ideas and inspirations lately have been few and far between, I spoke too soon on another blog about always sleeping well, and barely got a wink last night because of them.
I know now exactly how to fix my last novel. And not only that, but how to strengthen my current novel. I have new tools in my toolbox (to steal an image from Stephen King - yes, Stephen King again), things to rely on when I need to make changes, and things that will become standard fare in deciding on whether an idea is good and how to frame it well.
I'm inspired again. And I couldn't be happier. And I owe it all to the kind, wonderful writers who critique my work, and also the tolerant, patient writers who allow me to critique their work.
Of course, this isn't the first breakthrough I've had with my last novel. Not even close. Which makes me wonder if it won't be the last. But that's okay. Because you know what? I've learned so much with each new draft. It just keeps getting better and better. So if it takes a few more rewrites, so be it. I'll continue to learn, and to grow. And who better to learn from than my fellow writers?