I researched the novel on Jezebel’s life, REIGN, for two years. Then I had to throw the first draft in the trash. When I threw that in the trash, after two years of research and writing, I thought I was getting a fresh start. This next attempt to tell her story, I thought, would be so much better. I was wrong. That draft ended up in the trash, as did the next. Three times I started fresh, and three times I had to admit that the final product stank. I had not yet figured out why the story was so hard to write, and I needed a faithful friend and editor to point out my blind spot.
So why does bad writing happen to good writers? (If I may be so bold to include myself!) There are perhaps a thousand reasons, but I ultimately what I know is this: writers need community. We need other people to show us our blind spots and push us past our comfort zones. A great editor can do this, but I can never assume that I will be assigned a great editor. For me, a critique group has become a major saving grace, an insurance policy against my own foibles.
I see this same principle at work in every area of my life. Whenever I want to achieve something, I need to ask others to join me on the journey. I’ve asked for help in decorating my home, committing to an exercise class, organizing my paperwork, and planning a menu. A wise man once said, “If you could do it by yourself, you already would have.” That’s so true. We need community to do life well. When I see others who apply this principle to their challenges, I see people who are wise enough to know that they don’t have all the answers. I see people who are about to climb over mountains that seemed too high, too fierce, to even consider approaching in the past. And I see writers who won’t be throwing the same book in the trash over and over.
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