Sunday, August 26, 2012

Creating in a Vacuum Cleaner

A while back my youngest son overheard my wife and I talking about not being able to create in a vacuum. He asked, "why can't you create in a vacuum cleaner?" We both busted up laughing and then moved to damage control when we could tell he didn't appreciate it.

But the question is valid...why can't you create in a vacuum?...or vacuum cleaner?

Everyone's heard that behind every good man is a great woman (so true in my case). I would submit the same is true that behind every good writer is a great critique group.

My critique group is called Brotique probably due to the fact that we are a guys only group. Formed about three years ago - we meet about once/month at El Gallo Giro - a mostly authentic Mexican restaurant in Provo Utah. (A few of us are hiding out just for the food)

Now you might be tempted to think that we're sexist...stupid perhaps but the reason for keeping it guys only is to create an environment free from feminine based censorship - now hold on...we theorized that since most editors are female there is probably a bias in children's publishing away from certain topics or words, issues, etc. We wondered if this would be a good environment to test ideas and stories that might be deemed "inappropriate for children." Ironically we've come to realize that about the only benefit is being able to talk about ludicrous ideas without the fear of being labeled inappropriate, lewd, ribald, uncalled for, or crass.

Still - we feel that there are probably markets that are under represented or completely overlooked that would appeal to a demographic off the radar of some publishers. We like the ability to dream, write, and ponder these types of subjects. In the end we probably perform about the same amount of self censorship that we would get through editors - we just like the idea that we can be rebels - if we wanted to - but we might choose not to rebel - but we could...just so you know.

One thing for certain - we've found a magical combination of talented author/illustrators who are fun loving, thoughtful (when necessary), honest, smart, ingenious, hard working, and encouraging. The unspoken spirit of the group seems to be: "I'll help you - you help me - we'll both help them and in the end we'll all publish fun ideas that change the world for the better."

Meet the bros:

Guy Francis - can MacGyver anything  -  blog!
Adam Griffin - ghost - author/illustrator
Jed Henry - Young Gun - Larper - Amazing Project!
Neil Huges - can work the bowl - raises goats - writes really cool stuff!
Matt Loveridge - has largest collection of dust bunny critters - blog!
Jake Parker - internet entrepreneur - owns 5 small kids - Amazing Project!
Kirk Richards - unsuspecting - fine artist/ illustrator - Amazing Project!
Will Strong - strong - leaps small buildings with multiple bounds - blog!
Will Terry - immature - has been hit by two cars while riding bikes!
Rick Walton - is playing himself - written over 1000 picturebooks - site!
Jake Wyatt - jackhammer - buzzsaw - voltage overload - funny guy - blog!


  1. I would love to know how you all organized into a group. I want to start one here but have no idea how to start.

    1. I think it's easier in some places more than others. We have a very large group of authors and illustrators out here. But I would start with people in your local SCBWI chapter if you have one. You could put out the word that you are looking...

  2. Well said brother Will. Next month you will get to wear the honorary fez hat of honor while we dine on tacos.

    1. Will wear it proudly :)... Does this mean I'm off talking restriction?

  3. "Vacuum cleaner" aptly describes our manner of eating tacos.

    1. Remember when I said I was a friend of a friend of Matt's???...You guys just had more chips and salsa on your table...

  4. I'm glad I'm shoving tacos into my face in both of those photos. It is an accurate representation of how the meetings go.

  5. I think its totally awesome that its guys only! this coming from a girl who is more into guy things and often feeling left out from guys who are afraid to include girls thinking we will throw off their groove (fear not, there are some girls out there who still know how to be cool and not get all offended at every little thing!)
    but what a dynamic group you've joined! bravo! must be great fun!

    my question for you is how do I get ME one of those? I have been dying in this vacuum of creative...less...ness (thats a word right?) and I NEED A WRITER'S GROUP TO JOIN! but where to find such awesome people?

    on the outside, lookin' in...
    -Rachael M.

    1. It gets easier the better your work gets. If you're good at writing others want to join you...same for illustration...the better the work the more people want to band together. Sorry for short message - on iPad...

  6. oh dude! I just noticed your brotique sign! epic =D

  7. I love the people in my crit group, and you're so right about the level of trust and effort, honest and caring. It's great to meet your bros! Love your art and sensibilities. And the fact that you share so well. You and your bros deserve every ounce of success you get.

  8. Another great article! I live in a very small town so getting together with like minded people is very hard. I am looking forward to my first SCBWI conference in October though. Hoping I can find some more illustrators close by so we can get something like this going.

  9. A while back my youngest son overheard my wife and I talking about not being able to create in a vacuum. Dirt Devil Infinity


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