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The Help

 

 

 

 

When last we spoke I told you that the new goal was to get help. That goal was identified back in January. One of the best sources of help any writer can find is a really good writers group. Now I googled “writers groups” and Google provided me about 236 million potential hits. I cut that down to a manageable amount by picking a state to focus on and decided whether I wanted an online group. I have tried a few online groups and a couple were okay, but I was really looking for some face to face interaction with people I can get to know and trust. So, I waded through the groups based in Wisconsin and cut the number to five. All were within 35 miles from home and each listing advertised that the group members were trying to get published, a key factor in my decision. With high hopes, I sent out five emails requesting contact and additional information.

Group One Response: The reply email said that she was no longer with the group and that she thought they had folded but I could try to contact a different individual. I received no response from my attempts at the second individual.

Group Two Response: The reply stated that they had over 100 members! and that they were full for people submitting work, but I could come by and offer my opinions. In other words, I could critique other’s work but could not submit anything to get feedback. Reading other work and offering opinions is valuable and can help your own writing, but I was looking for feedback on my work.

Group Three Response:  We are a group of seniors who write for fun and get together and read our work to the group. Better, but not there yet.

Group Four Response: We are a group of writers who are trying to get published. We use writing prompts and then read our work to the group for feedback. Because this group met in very close proximity to me, I decided to attend a few sessions. There are some talented writers in this group with some interesting ideas. However, it was not the critique group I was looking for.

Group Five: On their website, the group indicated that they were a very serious group dedicated to getting everyone in the group published. They were, however, full on membership (10 people). If I was interested in joining, I could apply and if my qualifications were acceptable, they might make an exception, or place me on a waiting list in case a member left the group. I had nothing to lose so I put together a short bio of my writing experience, goals and involvement in other writers groups, and sent it in. I was actually shocked when I received an email requesting some additional information including a sample of my work. Two of their group would critique the sample and provide feedback so I could see what to expect and what was expected of me when I critiqued others. A few days later, I received their “crits” and a writing sample that I was asked to critique. I provided my feedback and was then told that they would present my request, writing sample, and crit to the group for acceptance. There was no guarantee that I would be asked to join at this point. Damn, I’ve been through job interviews that were not this intensive.

As it turned out, I was asked to join and honestly, it has been worth the effort. As advertised, the group is knowledgeable and motivated with eclectic backgrounds and styles which makes for a wide variety of comments on a submission. The crits can be hard at times, but the criticism is directed solely at the writing and not the writer. The result is that I can see a huge improvement in my writing and I have a much better idea as to what my “voice” sounds like. Many of my writing “ticks” (Bad habits) have been identified so I can catch them during revision and as I write future stories. The group”s comments have created a lot of revision work for me, but that is the point of a critique group. I always have the choice to act on their suggestions or not.

I know this is the type of group that I’ve been looking for, and needed to take me to the next level, and ultimately help me prepare my manuscript for submission to an agent. My advice is, If you decide you need a writers group, do whatever you must to find a GOOD one. One that fits your needs.

Goal: Get help. CHECK!

New goal: Finish this revision.

 

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Work In Progress

WIPI’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about resolutions and goals for 2014. There are a lot of very ambitious goals out there. I hope everyone accomplishes what they set out to do. For me, I created an action plan. Because, that’s what I do. I’m a contingency planner. My goal(s) are simple.

Goal Number 1: Complete the SFD of current WIP.

Goal Number 2: Refer to Goal Number 1

Goal Number 3: When Goal Number 1 tasks are completed, Catch up on other writing.

There are a variety of tasks that go with these goals which I will not go into here. However, if for some reason, you don’t see a post from me for a while, it’s probably because I’m working on Goal Number 1. If you don’t see steady progress on my WIP meter (See right widget), you have my permission to give me a swift kick in the behind.

Speaking of WIP. How do you feel about writers posting excerpts of their WIPs on their blogs? I can see posting snippets from a published work to entice readers to purchase the whole story. However, WIP by definition is unfinished. What is the purpose of posting part of a ‘shitty first draft’ or even a revised piece?

Now some of you that follow this blog will remember that about this time last year I posted a handful of flash fiction pieces. They have since been revised to form the beginning of my current WIP. However, at the time, they were simply an experiment. My decision to turn them into a larger work has made me reconsider whether or not posting any of the story was a good idea.Would doing so jeopardize any chance of having the piece published traditionally? I don’t know.

Personally, I do read some excerpts, if they are short. I’m always looking for new reads and it gives me a barometer as to what other writers are doing. It has also exposed me to other genres that I might not otherwise have given a second look. For example: My blogging friend Jade, from Jade’s Jungle, has been pestering me to read some romance novels. Even though I read an excerpt from one of her books, I have been somewhat resistant. However, a while back, I won a copy of a romance novel “High” by Corey MP that has finally made its way to the top of my reading rotation.

But, getting back to the question at hand. Is it a good practice to post part of your WIP? There have been books written as a series of blogs and even as a series of tweets! There are books out there that explain the correct way to ‘blog your book’.  Perhaps the issues around doing this are a figment of my imagination. Weigh in on this please. I’d like to know how you feel about it.

Very Important NOTE!  My friend, Jade has started a new blog, Autism’s Child, relating to her family coping with a severely disabled child. Jade writes from her heart so, I believe it will be a very interesting, informational, spiritual, moving and emotional ride. I’m sure those of you who have developmentally disabled children will find it cathartic. I urge all of you who follow me to take a look at it whether you have children or not.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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Winding Down and Gearing Up

plan-cycle

The year is winding down and I find myself contemplating the upcoming year. I think 2014 is looking like a ‘rebuilding year’ as the sports teams like to call it. Getting back to basics fits a little better. By back to basics i mean things like: Proper nutrition, write more, remove stress wherever possible, and spend more quality time with the domestic CEO. I don’t call these resolutions.. They are instead, fundamental changes that will be made to my lifestyle.

Unless we are truly diligent, we tend to drift as life bumps us around with trials and obstacles. Like a ship in a storm we move a little off course without realizing it. The next thing we know we are miles off course. So, it’s time for a course correction. Nothing drastic is needed. just a few tweaks to get back on track.

So, the next couple weeks will be spent assessing where I am at, resetting goals, and gearing up to achieve as many of them as I can. I already know of a challenge or two looming for 2014 on the personal front. I’m hoping that forewarned is forearmed. At the very least I shouldn’t get blind-sided. I can only prepare as best I can and hope for the best.

Some areas I intend to post on in 2014 are tough questions and moral dilemmas, whether posting excerpts of WIP’s is a good idea, a few gardening topics, and maybe an archery post or two.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Other Strangeness

 

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