I’ve been fortunate enough to have a blessed writing career so far. Lots of people have been there along the way to help me…to guide me. Lots of people there for me to thank. Obvious choices are my agent (who’s magical) and my editors (who are also magical). And, yes, absolutely they’ve all helped shape my career into what it is right now.
But my thank you today needs to go back a few years. To when I was fumbling around with this burning urge to write, but no direction on where to go. It was then, three years ago, when my critique partner, Jeanette Grey, pointed me to a call for submission. I read it, got an idea, and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. From my fingers poured a novella that would later become PLUS ONE.
Once I’d polished that baby up as best I could, I sent it off to her for critique. And then I sat, refreshing my e-mail and waiting for a response. And when it came, it wasn’t what I thought it’d be. It wasn’t heaps of critique (though that was definitely there, as any good CP will give). It wasn’t a gentle let down telling me I should work on something else. It wasn’t even a thumbs up to send off to whom I’d originally intended.
Instead, she told me to forget the call and sub to the bigger e-publishers.
I thought she was out of her mind. Surely I wasn’t good enough for that. Not now. Not yet.
But, as a good CP does, she pushed. She pushed and shoved and coerced until I finally relented and believed what she was saying. With baited breath and eyes closed in hopeful anticipation, I sent it off to the three publishers she’d suggested.
And, short months later, I received The Call.
I don’t know how different my path would’ve been if I hadn’t had her there to guide me to something bigger than I was striving for. If I’d submitted to that very, very small original publisher and hadn’t gone the path I did, I might still be where I am today. But I might not. So now you can see why, while my agent and editors are all important pieces in my puzzle, I chose my CP out of all the people to thank. Because without her guidance and gentle, albeit insistent, nudging, there wouldn’t even be a puzzle.
She’s been with me since the beginning—at a time before even I was ready to dip my toes into the world of writing original fiction. She listened to me whine and moan about uncertainties. Was this piece too long/too short? Was the heroine likeable? Was the piece good enough? Was I good enough? And through it all, she answered me with patience and kindness, and just the right amount of tough love to push me to the next level.
And that’s exactly what CPs are there to do, and why they are critical to each and every writer out there. Writing is a solitary career, but it doesn’t have to be. More than just critiquing your work, CPs are there to help push you to your limits, beyond maybe what you’re comfortable with. Beyond, probably, what you think you’re ready/good enough for.
They’re the always patient, always present, always constant cheerleaders of the writing world. And I would be absolutely lost without mine.
Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible.
Her debut novel, Caged in Winter, is available now from Berkley/Penguin.