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Who do you trust?

Because I have a surplus of questions, but a dearth of answers, I’d like to trade a few of the first for more of the second. The big question today is: who do you trust to read your writing? But that’s too simple, so I’m going to complicate things with qualifiers.

I’m curious about how other writers get feedback on their work.

  1. Do you let anyone read your work in progress (first or second draft) or only when you feel it’s nearly polished?
  2. Do you have a spouse, or other family member, who reads and discusses your writing with you and if so, is this person a writer?
  3. Do you have a close friend who read for you—and if so, is this friend a writer? (Revised)
  4. Do you have a mentor?
  5. Do you submit your work to a critique group—and if so, is this a face-to-face or online group?
  6. Do you submit only in a workshop/class situation?
  7. Do you think writers should rely on their own skills and listen only to feedback from a professional (agent or editor)?

I’ll start first by saying that none of my family members read my work … or maybe I should say, not anymore. And I have only two non-writer friends who read my last novel—one in progress, the other read the short version. Other than that, I must depend on the kindness of strangers. Actually, that would be my critique group members and two writer friends who read my complete novel, and a couple more writer friends who gave me feedback on a story or two. Presently, I’m in a small face-to-face critique group, just four of us, and these other three have read my novel, some short stories, and a few versions of my agent query letter. This group is most familiar with my style—and also my faults—which makes them my valuable front line. And though I bug one or more of them by email between our monthly meetings, essentially it’s a rather “formal” arrangement. I’ve often wondered if I should seek feedback from real strangers in an online group (I used to do that ten years ago) or what it would be like to have a true mentor.

Okay, I gave you some of my questions; will you give me some of your answers?

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