Friday, August 20, 2010

Write Club

Writers are introverts by nature. We live in our heads so much, with all these imaginary characters and situations, that conversations with non-writers don't always come easy. We tend to collect stories from non-writers, but we get lost when we try to talk about telling stories. But the need is still there, the need for community, for communion and conversation with people who share our peculiar eccentricities and obsessions.

I live in a small town. The only other authors here are retirees who've written either memoirs or children's books. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I didn't think I'd have much success if I tried to start a local writer's group. I figured they'd get a whiff of my urban fantasy and assail me with a double chorus of "get behind thee Satan" and "get off my lawn." So I decided to try forming an online group. It's starting out slow, with a couple of chapters up for critique. So far, so good. I also wanted to try a group blog for anyone that was interested. It's kind of a long story why but here goes:

Years ago I took a creative writing class at a nearby university. Most of the class were regular college students, I was just past college age, and there were a couple of much older ladies. One of those ladies quit because the professor was such an ass to her. I paid my $300 or whatever it was expecting to learn about characterization, plot, theme, dialog - you know, the stuff you need to know to write a story. The professor only wanted to talk about how terrible the publishing industry is because they wouldn't take his literary fiction coming of age tale. The publishing industry wasn't interested in literary fiction, they were only interested in "genre garbage". And if you want to turn that C into an A, well, let's just say the professor had a fondness for stories with what might be called girls flying solo. If there was no place for that in your story, well, make one. I didn't make an A, and the class was so depressing and so utterly useless, I almost gave up writing. I can laugh about it now, but it was pretty difficult at the time. It took a long time to start finding the tools I needed to learn to write.

Most of those tools, I eventually found on the internet. For free, even. Blogs and websites devoted to the craft of writing and the business of publishing have helped me immeasurably. I'm still learning, every single day. Class is in session, every time I open up my Google reader and check my blog subscriptions. Every time I do another round of edits, every time I sit down to write, the bell rings for my own little home school for writers.

Which is not to say that I really know what I'm doing, but if I can encourage just one person to stop listening to the angry snobs and the doubters who think you're getting above yourself and the disbelievers who think you're a crazy idiot - just shut all that noise out and write the story you know you were meant to tell. And tell it the best way you can, to the absolute best of your ability. I wish I'd had that kind of encouragement when I was younger, and an atlas full of road maps that might help me get to where I wanted to be, instead of just a dark hazy cloud to wander through alone.

So I guess you'd say my main goal here is to help writers, one way or another.

Maybe I should delete this and write something a little more generic. Anyway, welcome to Write Club. No Swedish furniture will be harmed in the making of this blog. And we won't try to sell you soap, I promise.

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