“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”— Red Smith
“I got ya back,” were the words a critique group member said to me.
My blinking eyes tried to mask surprise and hurt. My chest flinched at her tone. I dreaded looking at her critique of my manuscript.
Her critique was incredible! I loved it.
Maybe not the response she expected? I don’t know…and I was clueless.
What had I done to motivate her to feel like she had to “get me back?” My guess? My critique of her work rankled her.
A manuscript critique can hurt, but intentionally offending a critique group member certainly was not my intent. Each person’s unique skills analyze words on paper. Analyzing what hurts ambush a writer’s heart—those hidden hurts that don’t bleed onto paper—is impossible for others to access or assess.
I’ve Got Your Back
Last week, one critique group member dissolved into tears, appreciative of our input, sacrifices and faithfulness to her. Right now, there’s more stacked on her plate than ours. She felt guilty and said no one—not even her family—gave back to her like we did.
I could relate. Too often, I’ve given and given and sacrificed, only to receive a slap in the face. No thanks. No appreciation.
Nothing in return—except maybe feathers—angry words strewn to the wind intended to malign. Often, to survive I dam my tears within the walls of a self-erected stony heart.
My writing vein needs a safe place to bleed my shame, hurts and disappointments onto paper. One whiff of condemnation snuffs out healing. The safer I feel, the more I share—and heal. I am grateful to be part of a group that thinks the best of me, draws me out, pushes me to improve my writing, and sacrifices to help me succeed. The motives, actions and words lived out in our critique group heal places wounded by hurting people.
What’s the difference between a “Got ya back,” and an “I’ve got your back,” critique group? Safety, comfort, acceptance, and the courage to write to touch the hearts of those who hurt.
This poem expresses my heart and the spirit of our critique group.
I Got Your Back
I got your back
You got mine,
I'll help you out
To see you hurt
To see you cry,
Makes me weep
And wanna die.
And if you agree
To never fight,
It wouldn't matter
Who's wrong or right.
If a broken heart
Needs a mend,
I'll be right there
To the end.
If your cheeks are wet
From drops of tears,
Don't you worry,
Let go of your fears.
Hand in hand
Love is sent,
We'll be friends
Till the end.
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