At a writer networking event that I organize, I had a brief discussion with an attendee I'll call James. Although I kind of understand what James is requesting, I wanted to get your thoughts, dear reader, about levels of writers.
I arrange for speakers to attend a monthly meeting of regional writers. As you may remember from previous posts, the attendees had initially wanted to become a critique group. But I'm voluntarily arranging these meetings for a writers' organization that wants us to keep them open; a critiquing group would effectively close the meetings off from others in the public to join in and come to the meetings whenever they can.
James wants me to figure out a way to provide a networking "exchange" for writers and paid editors. He wants writers in this group to be able register and to self-rank themselves (beginner, intermediate, advanced OR amateur and professional). The registration enables the writer to get a different level of access to an editor and would serve to "network" various writers with one another. His belief, as an admitted amateur, James told me, is that beginning writers should be in a group with other beginners and amateurs with amateurs.
My gentle argument with James was that while I'm a published writer, I still consider myself an amateur (because I'm still trying to get my fiction published). Where did I fit into his levels idea? And, if we did manage to slot all the regional writers into a level, I would much rather be in a writers' critique group with writers who will challenge me, regardless of their self-reported level. Maybe others feel the same? I don't know.
What do you think about putting yourself into a "level" for your writing? And why? What kind of writers do you like to have in your critique group--ones just like you or a mixture? Why?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in Wilmington, N.C., and working towards her University of Chicago editing certification...in all her free time.