Tuesday, May 20, 2014
It’s been quite some time since I posted on this blog and I wanted to clarify that I’ve been wandering. Not lost, mind you, but simply moving things along with my writing and my writers group. Since the last time I posted, I’ve managed to send out several queries and thus received several considerate rejections. I, of course, want the big “YES” but have been encouraged by these letters because I know I’m getting closer! Each time I received an email from an agent, I was excited because they did read some of my pages and I found their comments helpful in motivating me to improve my writing and grow as an Author. Maybe an unusual response but I’m generally “the glass is half full” kind of girl!
This is also where The BWC has come in. The Bayou Writer’s Club has been amazing and in the beginning, there were only a few members. In the blink of an eye, I became the organizer of the group and it’s been a busy year. I honestly LOVE meeting with other writers but I didn’t expect things to take off so quickly. Amazingly, whatever I do for the BWC, I seem to get back two-fold. They inspire, encourage, and motivate me to be the best writer that I can be!
I took a short break from my first novel to write and edit another which has helped tremendously. Now I am editing again or as I like to say, polishing my novel per suggestions from agents and beta readers from the BWC. My writing voice is clearer and I can easily see small mistakes this time around. (I highly recommend taking a vacation from your work for a short while. This virtual vacation does for your brain what the real thing does for your body!)
As I’ve grown as a writer, so has my writing group. We have over seventy members in the Bayou Writers Club now and are still growing. We’re very active and meet every two weeks for a couple of hours but many come thirty minutes to an hour early so we can eat dinner and chat! (WOW!)
Honestly, if you can’t find me here, I’m cheating on this blog over at bayouwritersclub.blogspot.com http://bayouwritersclub.blogspot.com/ or http://www.meetup.com/Bayou-Writers-Club/ on the Meet Up website for Bayou Writers Club!
Members of the BWC are published authors, traditional and self-published, as well as beginners. Included in this group, so far, are writers of fiction, non-fiction, romance, fantasy, literary drama, horror, screenplays, sci-fi, women’s fiction, historical fiction, short stories, children’s picture books, YA and Poetry.
The BWC is not only impressive but this group of writers inspires and encourages each other like nothing I’ve ever seen. Outside of the group meetings, they even email and text one another. Currently we are celebrating our one year anniversary with a 12,000 word challenge. This has motivated members to write more than ever and each person has a partner that checks in with them via texts, email or phone calls to verify their word counts! How cool is that?
Since the most important way to improve your writing is to actually write- and write a lot, there are writing prompts posted monthly for members to sharpen their skills. There is a short word count requirement for these (usually 1,000 words or less) which encourages writers to eliminate useless words. After all, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs” - Stephen King
Many of our meetings have short writing lessons/discussions about things like writing dialogue or active and passive voice. There is also a fun Reading like a Writer, show and tell segment. A member will bring in books by their favorite author to share and show how well they use imagery, handle dialogue, or write excellent first lines of a story.
All writers are encouraged to bring in short examples of their work to read to the group. If they’re not comfortable reading then someone else will read for them but the idea is to give writers immediate feedback and encouragement. In addition, we’re all beta readers for one another and members can always ask others to read larger pieces of work. As a group, we choose novels or chapters of novels that are submitted and then provide an open discussion critique for that writer. We have rules of positive feedback but also expect honest criticism. (Seriously, rules are posted on our blog and meet up website)
Writing is normally a solitary affair but I aim to change that for the members of the BWC. Each of our members has amazing gifts and experiences to share with the group and we learn from one another. For instance, when members travel to writing conferences, they share their experiences which in turn gives other writers the courage to attend conferences in the future. We have several writers who have taken special writing classes and they also share what they have learned which not only educates the group, but inspires them to hone their writing and possibly take a course, too. It’s contagious to be around writers that are so enthusiastic! The proof can be seen when one of our members brings along their spouse to a meeting and then they begin to write!
My writing and I are much better for the time given to the group and I can hardly remember what it was like before I found my writing friends or they found me. A few months ago we began a group project of writing a story together and it has come a long way from a single idea to the actual writing. This task is helping our new writers learn the process but also our experienced writers learn new processes. Last week we had the task of brainstorming some of the plot-falls in the chapters written so far and then debating how to fix them. We didn’t all agree but did manage to vote on some of the details, it was necessary but difficult. Afterwards one of our members commented “Our meeting was the perfect metaphor for what my mind goes through each time I sit down to write.” I could totally relate and then laughed for ten minutes.
The lesson here is not only for writers but everyone looking to enrich their day to day. In a world where most people strive to find just a few minutes of quiet, I am not one to go it alone. Jeff Goins writes about finding your tribe and I understood the concept but didn’t get the meaning until my first meeting with the BWC! Something powerful happens when you are surrounded by like-minded, no like-gifted people. So Go! Get out there! Wander around (even online, try the Meet Up Website) until you find other writers, readers, sculptors, hikers, beer lovers, singles, bicyclists, vegans, etc…People like you. Because, "Not all those who wander are lost" - R. R. Tolkien