I realize that I have a fear of leadership as The Critique Group materializes

I don’t know why I am this way. I take heart in the fact that, according to Douglas Adams in Life the Universe and Everything, the kind of people who *want* to lead shouldn’t be allowed to. So maybe, since I don’t want to lead, I should?

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Have you ever wanted to start a writer’s critique group, but been afraid that it wouldn’t work? I was … After all, not only did I have to invite people I didn’t really know and risk their not coming, I had to lead the meeting myself. My first choice with regard to leadership? I prefer to follow. I *can* lead, if there is no other way, but I tend to surrender the leadership of any given project at the first opportunity.

I don’t know why I am this way. I take heart in the fact that, according to Douglas Adams in Life the Universe and Everything, the kind of people who *want* to lead shouldn’t be allowed to. So maybe, since I don’t want to lead, I should?

There was no opportunity to be part of a local critique group without organizing it myself. I waited almost a year to find one, or for one to spontaneously form itself for my convenience. No dice.

So I had to be that person, the one who organizes something.

The day we were to meet, I went down to the coffee shop early and set up the table, and waited. This shop, Daz Bog, had already earned my gratitude by offering us a free room. I bought a coffee with soy milk.

Several people had emailed and said they were coming, so I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t be the only one there. But I now realized that was only half the problem. I was not just afraid of being stood up, I was afraid of leading a group.

When the writers came and sat down and looked at me, I took a big breath. Could I do this? At that point, there was really no alternative, or no easier one, than just doing it, so I began by introducing the format, explaining the order of reads, reading my own work for critique and running the timer.

And it was successful. All who wanted to read their work did so and got critiques, and enthusiasm was high. I was impressed by the seriousness and skill of these writers. “Thank you for doing this,” several said when it was time to leave. We agreed to meet in two weeks.

After it was over, I was pleased, chuffed even. And I began to think how I could make what had somehow become Fort Collins Writers Critique Group stronger, better, more effective, more prestigious. I had originally planned to shove the leadership off on someone else at the earliest possible moment. But did I really want to do that?

Maybe … this small critique group success was just the beginning of something bigger. I rolled that around in my head, smiled. This was better than I expected. This was something good.

So scared to be starting a writer’s critique group today

Happy and scared at the same time …

I have spent some time trying to organize a critique group for local writers. I have gone to writer’s groups, canvassed people I meet, taken emails and phone numbers, attended the NCW conference, reserved a room, sent a group email invite, corresponded re questions about the group, made an agenda, sent a reminder email … and now I have to go down there and convene the group.

I’m scared. There’s no other way to describe it.

Even though I’ve done what needs to be done. Even though I’ve been to dozens, maybe hundreds of similar critique groups in the past. Even though I’ve got a plan of what to do, the papers are already printed, put on the clipboard, ready to go …

Who am I to start a critique group? As I realize that I am just this side of having a panic attack, I wonder if this is why so many worthwhile things don’t get done: they’re just too scary, and yet, why? What’s so scary about it?

  1. what if no one shows up
  2. what if people show up and they’re bored
  3. what if I do something really stupid and everyone notices.

Well … yes, all those things. But look, I’ve got this desperate need for a critique group. And I think some other writers around here do too. So I’ve got to step out in faith, in hope, and I guess to be cliched, in charity, too, because it’s not just for my benefit, it’s for all those who attend.

Crossing my fingers, getting ready to take my briefcase-purse and go out the door … got my “cool grandma” clothes on. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ll update soon on how it went.