My critique group met last night--the first time ever without manuscripts at hand--to celebrate a dozen years together as a critique group.

When we met in a writing class, none of us was published except in college literary magazines. We shared our interest in the same writing genre and in publishing short stories.

A good critique group works! All the remaining members have published short stories in major markets. (That market having shunk to almost nothing, we have turned our efforts toward anthologies and novels.)

We raised a glass of rather decent champagne to fallen members, gone too young, and others who simply drifted away. We reminisced, sometimes with sorrow and sometimes with pride or laughter, about the struggles the group has withstood, especially a recent split which left us smaller than we'd like but more dedicated than the larger group as a whole had been.

Where we were once students taking a class or two in writing, we are now teachers about to conduct workshops on critique and critique groups. Though none of us supports himself or herself with writing, we've all improved dramatically because of our involvement in the group, and as writers so often do, we're extending a helping hand to others.

I hope everyone here who wants to participate in such a group finds a good one.

Maryn, not even slightly hung over