I was nervous. Trying to find a critique partner is a lot like blind dating: you swap pages, edit each other's work, and then wait nervously to see if your writing, and your crit style, mesh. And like first dates, this process seemed to involve more awkwardness for me than connection. I wasn't willing to settle for anything less than what I wanted: honesty, experience, support and editorial brutality (when necessary). By the time I received this email, I'd already swapped pages with several people, all of whom were lovely but none of whom where the 'one'. I was starting to despair a little. But Ryan sent back my pages ripped to shreds and hanging in revelatory tatters. I fell in critique partner love. Luckily she felt the same way.
So we corresponded through the interwebs, picking at each other's work with deft, savage fingers. We decided to try and find another crit partner to provide a little balance and were lucky to find Emma, who fit right into our tiny clan. I didn't always love the critique--it always meant gutting something I loved or doing work I thought was behind me. But, consistently and irrevocably, these two fantastic writers made my story better. The process of working with them and reading their work made me a better writer. They taught me how to see criticism as a blessing, not a curse.