Building & Bonding a Critique Group – One Group’s Journey
For over eight years our critique group, The Bookshelf Writers, has regularly met to support the writing and publishing efforts of Debbie Black, Kiki Kornreich, Judy Salamacha and Susan Vasquez.
The group began its journey after a carpool ride home from a SLO NightWriters general meeting. Each member writes in their own genre. Trust, respect and ultimately friendship bonded our reliance on each other to continue and expand our creative writing ventures.
The group took a major step forward with an idea generated during a ride home after volunteering at the San Francisco Writers Conference about four years ago. Since 2020, besides meeting to critique and work on our own manuscripts, we each contribute a piece targeted to attract readers living on the Central Coast.
Our columns are featured in the Estero Bay News www.esterobaynews.com under the banner Out & About with The Bookshelf Writers.
Join us to share how your critique group works or to discover ideas to help you build your own group.
Writing. Walking. Breathing. Living. It’s all changed so much in these past two years that I hardly know where to begin. I am out of practice with nearly everything that was my normal life two years ago. How about you?
Once, twice, three or four times, I have made plans to walk across Northern Spain on the ancient road that humanity has walked for millennia. I have always wanted to place my footsteps where other people, for years beyond my comprehension, have placed theirs. I’ve done this in a couple locations on the planet, but I have not walked El Camino Compostela, perhaps the most well-worn of these ancient paths.
It’s an unnecessary indulgence. What can be better than having Black Hill to climb at my convenience? Montaño de Oro’s Valencia Peak, Morro Bay’s tidelands, the dunes along Estero Bay? There is so much here within this neighborly view, if I really just want a good walk, all I have to do is stay home and head out my front door.
Salt spray, glorious weather, views that inspire good health. People from all over come here to experience what I have as a gift every day. Wouldn’t it be selfish to even think of stretching my thoughts to another part of the world, when I have already seen so much and am lucky to live in a safe paradise?
But most of us have had a lot of staying home. And many of us are restless. For young people, they may feel like their days to settle into life are dwindling amid the need to keep a distance. For older ones like me, our days are simply dwindling.
It’s time for something: some plan, some idea, some venture. I can feel the urgency. During my morning routine, I can’t quite get to the routine because of a restless thought. It makes me pace by my front window wanting a different view. It’s then I know I should stop counting the days and begin counting the pennies it will take to get me moving on. I don’t know where this re-born journey will lead me. I don’t know if it will be mental exercise or physical. Or both. Maybe there will be months of preparation where all I have is the joy of walking with a fresh mindset in my own neighborhood.
Maybe I will be braver than I have been lately and venture out for some longer treks. There is that trail that has pulled my interest, but not my feet, that heads away from the Montaño de Oro headlands toward the lighthouse in the distance. But first, maybe I should tackle the crest of the hill above the Museum of Natural History at the head of the estuary. There is so much to explore along the way.
Maybe I will travel in September 2022 to France, then Spain, then back home, having walked one step at a time down an ancient path. Maybe life, as it has done for the last little bit, will break my path and turn me in an unplanned direction.
Let the journey begin. It’s just one foot in front of the other, as always.
Good luck to all of you on your paths.
Susan Vasquez has taken walks in many of the world’s most interesting spots, but especially enjoys her strolls around Estero Bay. She is the author of four books and blogs at One Small Walk.