I was scheduled to travel out of town for a firewalkers critique group this weekend, but one of my critique partners is a rancher with cows and irrigation issues and all the stuff that comes along with cows and ranch land. The cows need her this weekend more than the Firewalkers do, so we're skipping our meeting this weekend. I'm disappointed in a way because I always love our weekend getaways on Jo's property, but I'm also relieved in a way because the projects I'm working on right now are very fragile in my head and they're not ready to be poked and prodded by anyone else yet. Not that the Firewalkers poke or prod where they shouldn't. I don't mean that at all, but I am noticing a difference in my creative process. When I first started writing, I found it much easier to discuss ideas and works in progress with other people than I do now. Now, I find that the story has to have a certain amount of substance before I can release it to anyone else. A lot of times I have to write many pages of what the story isn't before I find what the story is. Until I have a fairly firm grasp on what the story is, I can't let any part of it go. I don't really know what has brought about the difference, but every time I allow someone else's fingers to stir the mist of an unformed story, I regret it. So while I'll miss seeing my friends, catching up on their lives since the last time we got together, and all the laughter that always punctuates any Firewalker weekend, on a professional level I'm relieved to have a little more time to put some substance in the story clouds that currently fill my head.