Today, I participated in a critique group for the first time, and I think, overall, it was a good experience. The novel being critiqued was a Christian fiction piece, covering the three-day period after the Crucifixion. This was not my usual genre. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have picked it up if I saw it in a bookstore. However, that's one of the good/bad things about the group - everyone in the group has a different preferred genre, so I'll get to read a lot of things that I don't normally read.
I read the book once, because I wanted to give honest opinions as a reader - when I read a book, I rarely go back and read passages again, unless the writer lost me somewhere along the way. I think this approach was probably right for the first run-through, but, after hearing the way the other members of the group gave their comments, I plan to do things differently next time. I will definitely do a first read over a 1-2 day period, the way I normally read a book, and make notes about my initial impressions and things that lost me along the way. However, I'll then go back and try to pinpoint what got me lost and why; which characters I liked or disliked, and whether that seemed to be the way the writer wanted those characters to be perceived; any subplots that didn't get resolved; basically, I'll treat it like a high school reading assignment during the second read-through. Hopefully, that will be more valuable for the writer.
This time around, the writer told us not to worry about line-editing because he knew that the grammar and punctuation could use some work. I tried to leave it alone, I really did! My father trained me well, though, and I just couldn't leave the dangling fragments alone. My critique was probably more technical than the others because of that, so hopefully my input was valuable to the author.
I'm actually looking forward to having one of my pieces critiqued by this particular group. At least two of the writers have completed projects that they're sending out queries for, which is also valuable - they're more than happy to help the rest of us with submissions when the time comes. I think that's the part of the process that I'm looking forward to the least. I don't like rejection. I hate it, actually. I applied for grad school and got rejected because the program I applied to didn't get enough grants to take on another student, and I was devastated. I've been 'rejected' at my last two auditions, and I'm not sure I'm up for auditioning for anything else (at least in the near future) because I don't want another failed attempt.
Intellectually, I know that just because I didn't get a part at the last audition, it doesn't mean I won't get something at the next one (there were a LOT of politics at play there, and I knew that going in). It still hurts, though, and it's very discouraging. I know, based on what I've heard from all of the other writers I know, that I will get lots of rejections before I find an agent who will accept my manuscript. I know that just getting an agent doesn't guarantee that anything will actually get published, although that's a good first step. I just get disappointed and discouraged easily. It's something I need to work on. If anyone has any suggestions about how to get past it, input is welcome!