Skip to main content

The Pigasus Pen

(plush pigasus by Jefita on Etsy)

I have a new writing group! And it is so good. We are a small band of young women in our 20s and 30s, founded by comedic romance writer Miss Moppet and including: the power-tool-wielding, world-traveling, journalist and children's writer Victoria Solomon; wacky contemporary romance writer Meika Usher; and myself. Miss Moppet christened our group the Pigasus Pen after John Steinbeck's winged pig doodle, which he created after being told he'd get his novels published when pigs fly.

We are all working on novels or novellas--two romance and two fantasy--which share a wholesome balance of similarity and diversity. The group offers a nice amount of structure that holds us to deadlines and encourages us to write and critique thoughtfully before each monthly meeting.

After some conversation and research, Miss Moppet wrote up a set of working guidelines to get us started. They are, summarized:

  1. During the first two weeks of each month, each member posts a length-limited (12 pages currently) piece for critique on a private online forum we call The Slop Bucket. No explanations or apologies are allowed to be included--just the work. 
  2. Mid-month, each member chooses at least two of the other members' pieces to print, critique, and mark up. Correcting grammar, spelling, and typos is acceptable; responding to content is required. (Instructions about how to give good critiques have been distributed and discussed among the group at its inception.)
  3. Late in the month, we meet face-to-face, bringing our marked printouts. Each critiquer takes time to explain and discuss her responses to each piece. We only work on the pieces from those who are in attendance at the meeting; work by absent writers is tabled until next month. While technical errors such as grammar issues can be marked on the printouts, the discussion is only of content and style. The writer sits quietly and listens, without comment, to the critique and has an opportunity to dialogue briefly with each critiquer when she is finished.
So far, this format is working very well for us. We are all experienced writers familiar with all the basics of both writing craft and critique. The schedule keeps us accountable and encourages us set aside enough time to be thoughtful with our writing and reading, but it protects us from being overburdened.

My work in progress, Briars and Black Hellebore, has been given new life with this motivation to accomplish reasonable writing goals, and I am gaining confidence in my writing even as I gain insights from other smart ladies on how to improve my craft and solve narrative conundrums.

Since the beginning of the group two months ago, I have revised the first three chapters of my book (wow, that first chapter is a doozy!) and smoothed over rough patches that had been tripping me up for years. This group is both immensely useful (more so than any other writing group I have attended) and highly enjoyable.

Finding the right critique partners is so difficult but so important. It helps to be restricted to a single writing form (novel, in our case) and have just enough diversity within the group to make it interesting without struggling against confusion and chaos. We are all women close in age, with supportive but non-noveling life partners, who live in the same area. But we all have vastly divergent experiences, backgrounds, and lifestyles. Our tastes in literature are similar enough that our critiques support each other well but different enough that each of us has a slightly unique take on each piece we read and our own particular ideas to try out.

It's great to have two or three different people critique the same piece, because the writer can quickly get a sense of what consistently does or doesn't work for readers as well as gather a grab bag of various opinions and suggestions to choose from.

I'm very much looking forward to honing my second chapter at our second official critique meeting at the end of this month!

Ad astra per alas porci.


  1. Whoohooo to the stars!!!!

    It's more fun than I thought it would be. I wish i could take credit for it but I probably wouldn't have bothered with doing any work if you hadn't been pushing me to get off my duff and do it!

    1. Miss M, you should get the credit! You did all the work and I sat over here going, "Yeah! You do that!" I nominate you Founder of the Pen.

  2. Founder of the Pen, indeed! I'm thrilled and honored to be in a group with you ladies. It is beyond exciting for me to have "In Real Life" writer friends. Now, I'm not the only crazy person who hears voices!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

A Bad Romance Starring Till Lindemann, Sophia Thomalla, Gavin Rossdale, Simone Thomalla, Sven Martinek, Andy LaPlegua, and Leila Lowfire

November 2018 Update: Sophia is settled in with Gavin a young soccer player (like mother like daughter) now, I guess, and Till is spending time with 36-year-old (hell yeah, thank you, sir) Ukrainian singer Svetlana Loboda. He is either her latest babydaddy or doing her the favor of bearding as such (not that he's great with beards, but we don't mind--we know how much he loves pregnant and lactating ladies) to help her keep some distance from her crazy ex who cuts his wrists over her. The juice continues...

To misquote Gaga, "I don't speak German, but I can look at foreign tabloids and guess what's going on if you like."

I guess it would be more professional and ladylike for me to be above this sordid celebrity gossip, but I'm not. I'm so not.

So let's see if I've got this straight. From what I gather...

Metalgod Till Lindemann, 54, and model Sophia Thomalla, 27 (upper left) recently exited a five-year, on-off, opennish relationship, which bega…

Ich Liebe Rammstein: Till

UPDATES:  In 2018, Richard has immortalized his lifelong bromance with Till in a tender duet about their friendship, "Let's Go" by Richard's side band Emigrate. Till sings words such as "Zwei Herzen in mir schlagen" with sincerity and I think I am now deceased.

After purging his sillies on the side project LINDEMANN and participating in another Rammstein documentary video, Till has begun work on a seventh Rammstein album, estimated to be released in 20172018 f*@#@#! *%&#$*! 2019 according to Peter Tagtgren

In October 2017, NatGeo released a photo book of Till's travels in the Yukon with Joey Kelly: Mein Gehasster Freund Yukon

Yukon Ho!

For fresh squeezed gossip juice, here's a bad (as in so good) romance. Till Lindemann
Till Lindemann is the only living human who could kick Chuck Norris's ass, but he doesn't, because they go on emo hunting trips together. The source of this fact, Urban Dictionary, also provides the following essential d…