In real life and online, locating a group of people (or even just one person) with a similar mindset seems damn-near impossible. I mean, it took me 17 years of dating to find my husband. It's a perfect fit there, and I don't mean to imply I'm looking for the same perfection in a friend or a beta reader or a crit group. In a friend, I'm just looking for someone I can have a rational conversation with. In a beta reader, I'm just looking for someone who is rational and likes to read what I write. In a crit group, I'm looking for a set of individuals with similar goals and work ethics, who write what I read and read what I write. It shouldn't be that hard.
When I first started, okay, it was probably that hard. Looking back, I see now that I wasn't in a place where I could take criticism, and the book is probably something people would be critical of. I tried, though. I joined an online community and posted my first page. The other people promptly ripped it to shreds without so much as a compliment sandwich. (You know, where they tell you something bad between two slices of something nice.) And walked away - okay, I ran - feeling like I fell off a motorcycle wearing nothing but a bikini. Road rash, anyone?
After a couple years and a thicker skin, I joined another writing community. They were pretty damn good. Hell, they must've been because I stayed almost a year. When I left, it wasn't because the writing part of the community sucked, or because they were mean to me. I left because at some point I realized that intertwined with the non-writing parts were things I didn't want to have my name associated with. I deleted all my posts and walked away for real this time.
Flash forward another year or so, and I tried again. This time, the community was good - both the writerly and non-writerly parts. I didn't stay long, though, because the majority of the members there wrote romance, and I felt like an outsider. You know, since I don't write romance. (Unless you count very slight romantic undertones here and there.) I slipped away from there with a sad sigh.
A few days ago, Andrea suggested a place called Litopia. Thanks, but after researching the place, I don't think it's for me. Something about having to submit a piece so that a few people I don't know from Adam can choose whether I'm good enough reminds me too much of choosing teams in gym. Getting picked last for 6th grade dodgeball was scarring enough. (Well, picked last until I started kicking serious dodgeball ass, and then I was the one choosing teams. Of course, then I got picked last for every other sport, but that's neither here nor there. Or maybe it is. I can't tell anymore.)
I guess what I'm saying is that I need to find the right group of kids - ones who are good at the same games I am. So, if any of you know of a group of people who write suspense/mystery/urban fantasy/speculative fiction, let me know. I don't mind standing on the sidelines and watching for a few days, as long as I eventually get in the game.