Writerly Feedback

Most people have a wonderful critique group they rave about. I am jealous of these writers. I recently joined SCBWI and have only attended two events. I haven't met anyone yet who is in need, as much as I am, of a group of writers to meet with and read with and talk with. I'd love to have an in-person group to hold me accountable, to hold my hand while querying, and to hold me while crying over rejections. I've been writing for five years, maybe closer to six, and for the first time, I'm ready to give up.

I have a handful of wonderful online friends who chat about writing and swap work and who support each other, and without these friends maybe I'd have given up months ago. But when I'm down, lately I find I avoid the internet. I also find that I avoid the internet and writing when life is really, really busy, as it almost always seems to be with work and three sons who are all involved in more and more events and sports, but I don't squeeze my writing time in as I used to. Or, maybe I'm just old and I need to squeeze in those five extra minutes of sleep where I didn't used to need to.

I also don't have the time I need to read the work of others, even when I want to so much, so then this let down, me letting down others, is an added feeling of neglect and failure. The feeling of failure is so much responsible for squashing the creative spirit.

Summer's just around the corner and I'm hoping for that burst of energy to edit and rewrite and draft, because even with my down-and-out spirit, I've got a new shiny idea...and maybe, just maybe, THIS will be the one.

I'm doubtful, but at least the idea is still there and my writing flame, though nearly, isn't completely extinguished. Not just yet.

How do you feel about in-person critique groups, online writing groups, online feedback forums, or even online reader feedback communities such as Swoon Reads? 

Where do you find your inspiration, and what gets you most down?