This is a bit of a question with no easy answer. Who do I speak with? I have no one person with whom I hash everything out.
I email my cousin if I have ideas or a short story. I do not expect expert critique from my cousin – usually she will ask a question if she does not understand everything or she will say that she likes it … in a worst case scenario she will just forget that she received that particular short story! Sometimes I will send her two beginnings of stories (NaNoWriMo that never reached 50,000 words! Oops!) and I will ask her which she likes better. This is the cousin who moved to a nearby town from Utah when we were around ten years old and we shared all kinds of books with each other: Trixie Belden, Piers Anthony, and Mercedes Lackey. This is the cousin that would go with me into the “wilderness” with water and beef jerky and stay out of the house playing some odd combination of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. My short stories and manuscript ideas have travelled to both Antarctica and the South Pacific to be read by her – is she highly critical? No! But she does understand me.
Another person who has read story ideas is my mother, I know, who in their right mind lets her mother read her work? Well, I have never said I was in my right mind. Mother will check for spelling and grammar and all that proper stuff. She will say when she likes a character … but you know mothers, never all that critical about word choice, plot development, or denouement. However, mother is highly supportive and joins me in going to both CrimeBake and Writers’ Police Academy. She can be a hoot when given a chance and a great travel companion. We share the Sisters in Crime experience, she enjoys writing stories, poetry and longer works – though she hesitates to have anyone other than family read them. I love that I have these conference times together; we make sure we hit a workshop or two, but we always find time for hot tubs and swimming pools! We encourage each other to step out in baby steps from our comfort zones and she is my accountability partner when it comes to competitions and when I say – I will have a finished and polished manuscript in time for CrimeBake this year … how many weeks do I have? Dang, not nearly enough time!
The last support that I have would be my writer’s group. This is relatively new and mostly we are there for each other to ask that horrible question, “So what have you written since last we met?”
That question can be the most difficult question to answer!