I'm on retreat with my critique group this weekend. We have a lot of work to dig through - they're all prolific, incredibly talented writers, all with manuscripts to discuss. Of course, this means my novel will be talked about too.
There's a joke about critique groups - that you leave 'bloodied.' Nobody is mean, but when you have brilliant minds offering sound advice on 370 pages of your writing, you're going to leave with work to do. It's a little scary.
Will they like it? Will they think it stinks? Will they slash it apart and tell me it's not working? Will they cheer loudly and say 'it's ready to go forth and win many awards'! Unlikely.
The first day after your critique can be tough. You've got to give yourself a day to calm down, chill out, and breathe. But if it's a good critique group, by day two, you realize your partners have given you some great advice, maybe inspired some new directions and ideas, and you can't wait to dive back into your manuscript with their insights in mind.
But I'm not to that point yet. Tonight it's good food, companionship and lots of laughter. We go through our manuscripts tomorrow. And yeah, I'm a little nervous.