My Writer's/Critique group is very much like eating bread. I can't do without it, and I don't want to! I've been a member for four years and realize what a pivotal part they play in the life of my mind. I don't make a literary move without them.
This is a pretty selfless group of people, and the trust factor is very high. We work together as a team. The critiques are fair and to the point. They always provide those fresh eyes that are so needed after countless hours of toiling over a 600 word manuscript--a jigsaw puzzle in implausibly slow motion.
Our two co-chairs, Sherry and Anastasia, never fail to support and encourage the group as a whole. They devised a brilliant plan to keep spirits from flagging. It was a Share Your Rejection Letters contest and was great fun. In fact, one of our members who is a much published children's author and whose name would be recognized here, shared several new rejections with the group. That was a major boost. "Wow. It even happens to her!"
A high point came this past spring when five of our company received offers of publication within a week. It was celebration all around. No pettiness. No jealousy. No ill will. Just solidarity and support. A circle of writers, both published and hopeful, working together to make the world a better place, is who I hang our with once a month and communicate with by email constantly. Am I lucky or what?