Writer Support: Do You Have It?




I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about the emotional support that gets you through the maddening, frustrating, insane times of being a writer as well as the euphoric ones. Writer support can be all sorts of things: constructive criticism, marketing advice, hand-holding via telephone as you hit the “submit” key, or a sympathetic ear when someone’s absolute drivel breaks sales records while your own masterpiece struggles far back in the pack.

The best choice (in my opinion) is a friend who is also a writer. They’ll have your back and you’ll have theirs. And they will always question whether your spot to hide the body is a good one.

But let’s say you don’t have anyone. Where to go?

Meetup.com has many different writers groups. Some read and critique work. Some offer a space to meet and write—without talking—for one hour, surrounded by fellow writers. Chatting afterward is acceptable. I’m sure there are more but those are two types of groups that I’ve encountered.

Let’s say you live in an area where Meetup has yet to offer a group that appeals to you and you don’t want to start one of your own. Are there any colleges around? Bookstores? In today’s market, many bookstores provide more than sales. There might be a group they know of.

What if there’s literally no one you know face-to-face who can provide you with what you need? Though I believe real life contact is important, I also think the Internet has useful options. Searching “writers groups” and “online writers groups” offers a wealth of choices.

How do you choose?

You make a list. Write down exactly what kind of support you’re looking for. It’s a waste of time to join a group that offers critiques when you’re looking for someone to walk with you on the path of marketing. Be specific and work your way toward general.

Remember, too, that you’ll be providing support as well. It’s definitely a give-and-take relationship and you should be as helpful as you want people to be to you. Leeches aren’t appreciated.

I have my writers group. We’ve met for over fifteen years and have pretty much covered every aspect of writing and publishing while also critiquing each other’s work. We’re friends as well. But we didn’t immediately form into a perfect group like some mystical key-in-a-lock connection or love at first sight. As a matter of fact, we met when we all worked in the same office, the publishing division of a financial organization. It made sense: we gravitated toward fiction and it was a natural progression to meet. (Proof that writers groups can flourish anywhere.)

I’m aware of how lucky I am to also have supportive nonwriter friends and family. But it’s good to talk with a fellow writer and discuss final proofs and blues and swing into our different marketing approaches in the next breath without explanation.

So, take stock of where you are and what you need. No matter what stage you’re at, support is a steadying hand to work thorough a career that is more solitary than most. I wish for you that you find it and nurture it and pass it on.



 * Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Writers Use Everything




On Thursday, I went to the hospital for dental surgery. I was knocked out via general anesthesia and was scared to pieces as I walked in. I could convince myself I wasn’t really doing it up to the moment I walked into the OR in my hospital gown and saw the table with those round overhead lamps with the beehive-like bulbs.

I’ve jotted down notes about that experience. The way I felt, the machines and people around me. The smell of antiseptic and the color blue that pervaded. One never knows when something like that will come in handy in a story.

It’s a useful coping mechanism but it’s also the truth. Writers use everything. This time it was a deliberate recognition of that fact and helped me to get through something I didn’t really want to do. But it happens in so many other ways that come back later.

The tang of an orange slice in a salad.

The tickle in my nose after the grass is cut in summer.

The cold blankness of winter at night when there’s no wind and the stars are glittering above.

A paper cut.

It’s been said that writers live many lives. I believe that. But the main one, mine, is filled with all the moments that help me write the others. I think it’s best to experience first and write it down later rather than observe while it’s happening. It’s an important distinction. Live first, write second.

But yeah, writers use everything.



* Image courtesy of Just2shutter at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Production and Fear




My urban fantasy novel Magical Ties is now officially in the production stage.

I should probably put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence but I find myself taking deep breaths instead.

It was hard to hit the send key and email the manuscript to the wonderful friend who’s formatting it for paperback. I’m formatting the ebook, and while I’ve done that before for other books, doing it for mine has me almost frozen.

I suspect that the closer I get to publishing it, the more I’m going to drag my feet. Because once this book goes live, there won’t be any more excuses. As long as it’s safely hugged in my arms, there will be no criticism. No silence. Everything will remain in the realm of possibilities.

It’s a fact: If we never submit, we never get rejected. It’s the easy route, the route of “I coulda.”

I choose to go forward. I hope, no matter where you are on the journey, that you’ll do the same.



* Image courtesy of Maggie Smith at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


More Than Writing

  • February 02, 2015
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On Saturday night, I was at the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor (I kid you not, that’s the name of the place) and met up with six women interested in tapestry weaving. Two of them arranged the meet and were generous and welcoming with their looms and knowledge. The rest of us were newbies.

My creative pursuits have always been in writing (and, to a lesser degree, dance). But this past year, I’ve been exploring the world of yarn. Loom knitting and weaving are providing me with a new pathway in my thoughts, both in a meditative sense and with a different kind of creativity.

I can’t say it’s going to make my writing better or offer new plot ideas. In fact, I’m perfectly happy if it doesn’t. The idea of doing something that’s so divorced from writing is invigorating. That sounds opposite to meditative but it’s still true. It’s something new, something that requires my hands to help with the thinking.

A new pursuit is a good way to keep from getting stagnant. Sticking with that pursuit becomes a way to deepen the skills and lessons it provides. And who knows? Maybe it will drift into a story or two. Maybe it won’t. That’s not the point of it. And I’m content.




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