Let’s imagine there’s a power cut at the Louvre.
You’re wandering the majestic halls for the first time and you’re hoping to see the Mona Lisa. You’ve heard all about this great painting and you are excited to finally see a masterpiece.
You somehow arrive at the Renaissance section (this Louvre place is huge), and there she is… at the other end of the gallery. This is it, your moment.
Then the lights go out.
Da Vinci’s beautiful lady is somewhere in front of you but you can’t see a darn thing.
Of course you brought your keychain flashlight (motto: always prepared), which you power up and shine ahead of you.
And what you see is a forehead. An amazing forehead, mind you. An unparalleled hairline if you do say so yourself, but that’s it. The moment you’ve been waiting for and all you can see is the tippy top of Mona Lisa’s head.
Where’s the enigmatic smile? Where’s the impenetrable stare that follows you as you cross the room?
HOW DO YOU SEE THE BIG PICTURE?
Here’s where critique groups come in. (You knew I had to get to my point some day, right?)
For writers, critique groups are like an extra set of flashlights (okay, ‘torches’ for you Brits).
You may think your story is spot on brill (“A-OK” for you Americans) but maybe you’re just looking at a forehead. What if there’s so much more of the masterpiece to be discovered?
I know it’s scary to have your work read by others (What if they hate it? What it they’re mean to me? What if it actually stinks and they’re just being polite? Self-doubt much anyone?) But critiques can bring so much more to the table than what you originally wrote. Some of it might be as useless as Madame Lisa’s elbow but some might shine a light on that little part of the upper lip that curves delicately into a cheeky smirk. And KAPOW! You have a better book.
Dare I say….masterpiece?
So get out there and show your work to people. Heck, the postman probably has an opinion, right? You never know who might help you turn your spotty forehead into a Renaissance triumph.
(Too much? yeah, well, I’m just going to roll with it.)