Worldcon 76: Meeting My CP
Worldcon was, in the end, a great conference to attend. It's not every day that it is hosted in the United States, let alone in San Jose (an hour away from where I live), so there was no way I was going to miss it.
In my previous posts on the event, I shared some of the cons that bugged me, but also pointed out all the benefits and fun that I had from start to finish.
However, all that is Worldcon pales in comparison to the biggest reason why I enjoyed the conference.
I got to meet my critique partner for the first time.
Writing at First Sight
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this a few times on this blog, but I'm a naturally excitable person. That is, it doesn't take much for me to get pumped over any given situation that I'm already anticipating. The greater the event, the more likely my energy levels will be well over 9000. To try and channel some of that energy into something constructive, I created that nifty sign pictured above - an airport pick-up sign by writers, for writers.
Where meeting my CP ranked... well for someone that can be quite verbose, I was pretty tongue-tied when we finally met at Oakland International Airport two Thursdays ago. Nothing but the widest grin my face could physically produce and my repeating a number of times something to the effect of, "You have no idea how excited I am to finally meet you!"
Fortunately we both felt the same way. Just about our entire joint ride from OAK to San Jose was spent smiling, chattering up a storm, and then repeating the same opening line.
My CP is Awesome*
*No buts about it!
In retrospect, our reaction to our meeting wasn't at all surprising. I cannot recall exactly when we followed each other, but it had to have been in February 2018. At the time, we did what any writers of interest did: like and occasionally respond to Tweets of interest.
Behold: my first Tweet to my CP!
But that's how it goes for 95% of those you "meet" on Twitter. At the time, I was already deep into editing my novel (the biggest cuts I made were done through the month of March), had no query letter, no synopses, and haven't participated in any pitching competitions (I did have an elevator pitch for my story, however). Though I had my group of alpha readers, I wasn't even thinking about lining up beta readers, let alone a critique partner who would require far more time and energy to devote.
However, I was curious about what others in the writing community on Twitter were writing. With people occasionally making requests for betas publicly, it wasn't hard to find people that I could offer some of my time. Due to how much of that time I centered around editing, I just didn't want to commit to reading an entire story at that time.
But a short story... now we're talking.
Three hours after that post, my CP and I started our first significant line of communications: direct messaging via Twitter. I sent over my email address, and she soon after provided a short story to read. What's a couple of thousand words to read in a day?
I didn't get to it until later that afternoon, with my feedback sent via email that evening. After thank-you's were exchanged, I was surprised when she then asked me if I considered being a critique partner - and if so, would I be willing to swap novels. I hadn't thought about finding a critique partner of my own until that moment, but I was pretty sold on the idea right out of the gate. We laid out our expectations, timelines for completing the work, and eventually a formal document to track our respective progress. But in the end, before midnight on March 29th, we agreed to critique each other's work and...
...became critique partners!
It's All About the Relationship
It wasn't long before our working relationship truly took off, breaking clean through the stratosphere and flying clear through the exosphere.
We both brought different writing experience, skills, reading preferences, and personalities to the table, but they all meshed incredibly well. I have a natural talent for detailed, engaging scene descriptions and locales while she brings incredibly fleshed-out characters to life. She's more of a plotter while I'm a pantser. My first novel is hard science fiction while her's is fantasy. We both enjoyed our company when DMing in Twitter, which eventually migrated to text messaging via Whatsapp.
It wasn't long before we spent some amount of our day just asking about our respective families and kiddos. Our spouses know all about "the critique partner in our lives." And the amount of enthusiasm we have for each other's work - and our unending desire to continue pushing each other ever-forward - occasionally spills out over Twitter:
We've provided thousands of words worth of feedback for our respective works, from our novels to our collection of short stories. We've provided digital high-fives when we reached major writing milestones. At the same time, we always consoled and supported each other if we felt particularly down, or if the writing world felt like the cruel mistress it can be at times. Tears were shed on more than one occasion. Through it all, we were there, and that level of support on such a professional and personal level made a huge difference.
Four months later, following our fateful digital encounter in March, we declared ourselves to be besties over a steak dinner in San Jose on the last evening before going our separate ways the following afternoon.
Back in June, I wrote an article all about critique partners and how much of an impact the ideal CP can have - both for your work and even in your life. Finding that other writer who compliments all that you're bringing to the table, is genuinely enthusiastic about your creations while not being shy about ripping you to pieces, and also becomes a friend is a combination I'd consider to be uncommon, if not rare.
Do all writers require a critique partner? Absolutely not. Is it worth the time, energy, and devotion to find your Number One in the writing world?
If the relationship I have with my CP is any indication, the answer is - without question - yes.