Wednesday, June 15, 2016

BE A GROUPIE!

Writing is a lonely profession, but . . . .

Wa-a-y back in 1996, after my first book (Dear Earth: A Love Letter From Spring Hollow) was released, the Chamber of Commerce in the town near our then country home (Spring Hollow) asked me to teach a writing class in town. They were beginning a community school for adults, and I was to be part of that. The class formed with about eight consistent attendees, and, when it was completed, members asked to continue meeting as a writers' club. They chose a name: "Spavinaw Authors Guild" since we all lived somewhere near Spavinaw Creek or one of its branches at that time.

Spavinaw Authors Guild still exists. Over the years, membership has changed. Folks moved away or lost interest. Others joined. My husband and I and one other student from that early class are still active members, and we three have achieved publication with paying publishers, two of us multiple times. Our meeting format for all these years has been bringing a few pages of a work in progress to each meeting, with copies for all. The author reads his or her work aloud, and those present comment, perhaps writing corrections and ideas on the manuscript, or simply discussing ideas with the author and the group.

This critique group has been a wonderful help for me, mostly because the membership--always made up of serious writers--can sure spot problems in my written work that I have not seen, and add helpful new ideas. (Note: One reason our members are generally all serious about a writing career is that those who are not committed writers or thought being an author was easy and likely to make you wealthy, have never stayed with us long.)

Groups like this are jewels without price for any writer. Writing is a solitary profession, and one danger is that, when we are the only ones reading our work (family members usually don't count), we tend to think in two ways. Much of the time we are pleased with what we write. The rest of the time we have serious doubts about our talent and ability, especially if initial submissions to editors or agents bring rejections.

And, of great importance: One thing many beginning writers don't understand is that we simply are incapable of a real edit of our own work. No matter how sharp we are in spelling and grammar, we still cannot avoid mistakes there, and we also know all the background ideas we brought to our writing. But, too often, we leave the reader out. They can't read our thoughts. They can't see what we thought we made clear. Here is where critique groups and, eventually, editors, come in. Oh, how important they are, especially, (these days), if one is planning to self-publish.

So--we writers are not really alone. We can meet in critique groups, attend conferences and conventions, and, these days, meet with many groups on line--like the Oak Tree Press Yahoo Group-- to share ideas, give helpful news, offer encouragement, praise or sympathy. It's like being in a meeting with friends in a similar profession, though we will never see most of them in person.
Oh my, do we have a lot of friends out there!  (And if you find mistakes here, that will prove my point. I was alone in my office when I wrote this, and your eyes are the first to see it. Therefore . . . )

Radine, at http://www.RadinesBooks.com
 

1 comment:

Carolyn Niethammer said...

I was in a group for several years. We didn't read each other's stuff, but we talked about ideas for article or books, whined about publishing problems, gave marketing support. How I miss those women.