I had a request for more info about my writing group and it coincided with a spot of warmth I experienced concerning my writing friends. So here goes...
Earlier today I was over at my fellow 'Online Writer's Worshop for Sci fi and Fantasy' workshopper Peter Cooper's blog, where my friend Teresa guest-blogged. (A great article on the quiet moment when everything changes, btw. Check out the links to the right) I've critted some of Peter's submissions and vice versa, and Teresa is a very good friend besides being a faithful crit partner.
Published author Kathryn Magendie left a comment about her character's quiet moment and I knew what she was talking about since I'd read her amazing book Tender Graces (about a woman who returns to her childhood home to make peace with the ghost of her mother who gave her and her brothers up to be raised by another woman.) She also happens to be an editor for a lit mag and wrote me a very encouraging rejection letter. Really, I've read it a few times when I was feeling down.
I read my fb friend (and rat afficianado) Hilary's blog about her 13-month effort to find an agent, and she responded to my question about if I should hold off on sending a query letter to a particular agent until after the pitch session I've signed up for. (Yes. Hubby and Hilary agree, so I will wait.)
The point of this is community. It hasn't taken that long (I had a crit-partners-become-friends within a few weeks on OWW) to find people that I can connect with and who are encouraging and fantastic writers and I wish we all lived near each other so we could meet every Tuesday in a local pub and we could call ourselves something cutesy and literary- maybe the Inklings? Sigh. I am not Tolkien and you are not CS Lewis. Not yet anyway. But you are here and I am here and we are writing.
This is how solidarity revealed itself to me.
A year ago, after four months of obsessical (new word. You like?) writing, I had my rough draft. I knew it needed something. Something so literary and metaphorical and streamlined that I couldn't see it through all of the words that had grown up around the idea. I did a quick search and found an online crit group with a free month trial. That sounded good.
I was literally sweating when I posted my first submission. The writing was really rough, but I didn't realize that at the time. (I was actually hoping to get picked as an 'Editor's Choice' that first time out of the stall.) It didn't happen that quickly, needless to say.
I did a lot of reviews wherein I made comments like "This didn't gel with me. Not sure why." And I reviewed others' work, read other reviews of their work just to see what I was missing. This led to a lot of head scratching for me. What does 'get rid of passive voice' mean? How can they not see the character motivation? It's in there...isn't it?
Joining a workshop taught me how to be critical of my writing, to actually read the words instead of staying in the fantasy land of what I thought I'd written. I write urban fantasy, but still. The reader should be transported to a magical place. The writer shouldn't live there.
Hubby and I watched some of the auditions for American Idol last week and Holy COW! some of those people can't sing. I can't sing either, well, maybe in a choir setting, but I know I'm not a front woman. I did a song (Doobie Brothers, "I Wanna Make It With You". I know, TMI, sorry ) karaoke night at a friend's Christmas party and it cured me of any teensy thought that maybe with a vocal coach...Nope. Not even then.
I tried the local writer's group, but genres are so different and nobody else was fantasy (much less urban fantasy). So it's been really neat to meet these amazing writers online- some still drafting or polishing, some agented and some published.
It's taken a while for me to feel like I'm not some crazy-stalking imposter, but I finally got there. I belong here, keyboard on my lap, stacks of chapters print-outs on the floor beside me. Thanks for being so nice, writers. I'm glad we're friends.
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