I met with my critique partner, John Bingham, at Prolific Oven today. It was good to seem him. We critique one another with weekly emails but every few weeks it’s great to see him in the flesh.

Our writing styles are poles apart – that could be why we’re good for one another. We see things from different genders and generations. His devotion to Strunk and White is wonderful for my grammar. My love for research has been – I hope – of some help to him.

John’s book is a great, thick, multi-story arced beach read. Mine? Not so much.

We spent the hour today talking mostly about Maggie’s story. He has been trying to convince me to use smaller words. I’ve been trying to talk him into believing my protagonists – and my readers – are smarter than that.

He admitted that one passage in the latest chapter moved him to…well…not so much tears, but tearfulness. That kept me hopeful, as I find myself in one of those phases of self-doubt that come and go and change.

Towards the end of the hour, we began to chat about the Stanford Publishing Course I’ll be attending at the end of this week. John’s words were something like,

“You take all this writing business far more seriously than I do with all your classes.”

I joked that all this writing, all this studying, was because I didn’t have a retirement plan. He was astonished.

“Well, certainly you don’t think writing a book will provide…”

“Of course I don’t…”

I felt my heart do a little flip-flop. I’m not looking for fame and fortune and I was embarrassed that John thought I might be. What I’m doing, probably for the first time in my life, is following what has heart and meaning.

“So all this business about you trying to become a writer…”

I interrupted.

“John – I am a writer.”

“Oh, well, excuse me.”

We both smiled.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit you are what you have always wanted to be.