My wonderful, fantastic, they-totally-get-it writer's group has been forced to make some changes.
Critiques groups have to work just right. There is a mix of personality, diversity, commonality, trust, and commitment that has to feel right to each member.
There are four of us and we've been together for a year and a half. Four seems to be a good number. It provides enough varying input without getting bogged down by too many story to read. We started with one of us in each of our 20s, 30s, 40's and 50s ('til one of us grew a tad older). We met in Ogden, UT, but the quality of the critiques justified the 50 minute drive from Salt Lake.
The change was kicked off by a move. The 20 year old's day job took her out of the state. We tried Skyping but that hasn't worked perfectly and are now having to share online. 20 is working on a powerful YA novel in the haunting style of Ann Dee Ellis. She got us started and kept us organized. We miss her cracking the whip when we slack off.
The other two are phenomenal. 30 something and 40-ish can pull some much out of a story. They have this sense of what the piece needs and what is not working. One of them would irritate me with their comments. I would go home, ease my bruised ego, and a few days later discover that she was spot on.
Things change. T is gone. The needs of writers alter in varying stages of the process. L and C need some time to put a first draft together. Can't judge the sandcastle while you're still dumping sand into the sandbox. (That was 40s person. Brilliant, isn't it?) We're taking the rest of the year off and will meet back in January, new rough drafts to be worked.
Thanks, you all. Can't wait to see what you come up with. I'm still driving up there come next winter.