…that’s what a Writer’s Group is all about.
I joined the group I’m in, The Keller Writer’s Association (KWA) on a whim. My son had a commitment near the Keller Public Library every Saturday and, on the first Saturday of every month (at 12:15 if you ever want to drop by), the KWA held their meetings at the same time. Since I had to be in the area anyway, why not?
It turned into one of the best writing career moves I’ve made.
The truth about writing is that is a pretty isolated obsession. We sit in our favorite writing cubbies and bang out our stories alone. Since I don’t want to risk offending anyone I’ll put this in personal terms. What I was producing when it was just me, myself, and I looking at my work was dreadful!
Oh, I could tell a good story but we all know writing a book isn’t about story telling. It’s about spoofing our readers into believing they are experiencing the joys and sorrows our characters are living through as they are living through them. That is, it’s the big kahuna of telling vs. showing on the completed manuscript level - so very different than simply spinning a good yarn.
With gentle but firm constructive criticism, KWA helped me realize that. Of course, I still struggle with putting that wisdom onto the page, but who doesn’t? And, I am so much better at it now. The kind folk at KWA, the ones who’ve been around for a few years, told me that, too. I was elated, humbled, excited, dare I say giddy, when a writer I respect immensely said, “Your writing has grown so much from where it was when you started.”
Each month we offer members and guests the opportunity to read something they are working on. The first time, yes, it was terrifying. But the comments! Going around the conference table and getting feedback from grammar gurus, the POV police, writers as young as seventeen and as old as…well, older than I am with much more writing experience, is so helpful. Imagine how encouraging it is to hear a nationally recognized poet tell you, “That was a pretty wonderful turn of phrase you used on line such-and-such.”
After every meeting, I want to get home and just write, write, write. The group inspires me. Members have offered, and I took them up on it, to read two or three chapters and give me mark-ups at the next meeting. They make suggestions and don’t get offended if I don’t take them. Usually, I do to some degree because if they have questions, comments, or criticisms, so will readers after the book is out.
Over the last few years, I haven’t missed too many meetings. I’m a regular and plan to be for quite some time. So much is to be gained that, as a writer, I’d be a fool not take advantage of such a group. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to write to go out and find a critique group that works for you.