Why writing groups are a very good thing………..
I wanted to take my writing more seriously and, ultimately, I want to get published. So I thought that I should make an effort to spend time with other people who are, well, actually writing. I did some research and found a writing group.
Very honestly, I was a little hesitant to go to the first meeting. I pictured a hunched-over group of blurry-eyed newbie writers ripe with coffee breath, raspy voices, and broken, yellow fingernails earned the hard way – by punching away on the keyboard until the wee hours of the morning. I imagined the most serious among them would also have calloused fingertips from using a pencil and, gasp, an eraser – kickin’ it old-school.
Or it might even be worse. They might all be amazing writers who spun lyrics even as they spoke, their words dancing the waltz as they breezed out of their mouths. Or they could all be published already and just toying with those pesky letters on the page like a cat lazing in catnip – just relishing the moment but not needing to grow or gain from it.
What I found instead was a group of people who simply love words and thoughts. A group of people who love to talk about how words and thoughts mingle together on the page and in the mind. How we digest a story and it becomes a part of us. Or how we can reject a thread that just doesn’t make sense and lose the reader altogether.
Some of the writers have published works. Some have agents. Some teach writing. Some just write.
We first find strength in every piece and then we dissect the rest.
It is interesting how defensive some in the group are of the words that they have put together. It is as if their words are spun with sorcery so powerful that they simply cannot be spellbinding. I understand it because even I want to defend my work, explain what I meant to say. It’s hard to hear the critiques but it is infinitely helpful.
Last night there were 7 of us. The group reviewed my piece that is soon to be published in the anthology Forced to Fly 2 . The group was consistent with their compliments and with their concerns. The beauty of this is that my writing group is diverse. Very diverse. So, if I can appeal to each of them in some way, then I can be comfortable that there are strong elements in my writing. And if they all feel it is broken in the same places, I need to pay attention to those places to reconstruct and re-explain what I meant to say so that what I want to say is clear.
When my children have wanted to improve at something, I have found a club or a group that practices that something. It makes perfect sense for children to practice and repeat and practice some more. I wonder why we adults often forget that. We need to practice too. So, if you are interested in getting better at something, find some people who are doing that something. And if that something is writing, please let me know. I have just the group for you. 😉