Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Writers Groups Help

I don't think this is a prosaic post, but I think it matters a lot to me. I've been part of different writers groups over the years, and I want to tell you a bit about them for Wednesday Writes and about why I like them.







I've run writers groups before informally through Meetup.Com, which I recommend as a great source to find like minded people in your area for a variety of things from book groups to writing. It's how I've found various LGBT+ groups as well in the D.C. territory. The group I initially started was for people who wrote fiction aimed at young adults. It was a fun group, but the greatest advantage that I gained from it was that one of our members was already a member of the Romance Writers of America and The Maryland Romance Writers as well. She gave me the information for joining the RWA and the MRW as well, and I did. From there, I started slowly going to their chapter meetings monthly as well as their additional self publishing meetings one Saturday a month.



However, the best boon started last July when I hooked up with the new online critique group they created. The six other women there (one of whom is a bit newer than the others) don't write the same things I do. Sometimes I do write het, as both a current ghostwriter and for some fiction I work at. So with them, I've been dissecting and working to improve an m/f romantic suspense with serial killers (what can I say, I'm a dark soul). Each of us writes something a little different: a contemporary military romance, a sports romance, historicals, romantic suspense with enhanced soldiers, romantic suspense with serial killers, women's fiction with silver fox/second chance romance, and sweet small town romance.

You'd think in a group like that with women of disparate ages (we run the gamut from 32 to early 60s) and with different sexual preferences (I'm the only bi woman, and I think the only woman without children) we wouldn't have anything to talk about. But I think it's been great for all of us. I was frustrated a bit at first that I didn't have a group full of other paranormal romance/sci-fi romance/Urban Fantasy writers, but now I'm glad that I don't. Somehow, I feel that after eight months, we'd have ended up influencing each other's world building so much that we'd have the same setting or ideas for our plots. I think it's been amazing to have the different types of fiction because I wouldn't be learning and reading the conventions of historical or sports romance...etc. without them.

But it's far more than that. We support each other through sickness we endure, through illness in our families, through bites from agents, and the inevitable rejection. Since we meet on Slack, we often start the day by just chatting with each other, little nothings that we can't wait to discuss. We have each other, and when school has been too much for me or I've felt like giving up the manuscript, knowing how much they want to keep reading makes me go back to finishing. More than that, we have adapted and learned from each other's strengths. I strive to describe more like M and N, to deal with small, realistic moments like K, to have sparkling and sexy dialogue like P, to bring that sweet sensibility and plotting to the table like A, and, now that, Kr is here, to also think big concept and idea like her. We take the best of each other and we grow together.

Writing can be so lonely, that it's great to have those resources. I also have an amazing girlfriend and good friend to be my betas and cowriters. I have a long time beta I've paid for years to help me with line edits, but there's something about a community you can find in the most unexpected of places that can shape you in the biggest of ways.

That's worth everything in the world, especially in a profession as isolating and with as many ups and downs as this one!

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Coming Tuesday - Review of the Nun!