Monday, November 20, 2006

Finding a Writers' Group Takes Persistence

Posted by Lisa

Two years ago, I knew setting was my strength. I had read Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan. I felt the scene, smelled it, listened to it, or tried to, before I ever started typing. Description too, I could handle – or thought I could … how a day at the beach coated my character with sea salt, then dusted her with a layer of sand. Her face would crack if she smiled, but how could she keep from smiling?...

But characterization? Plot? So tricky, so tricky. I wanted, no, I needed a writing critique group. This next step was obvious.

My first writer’s group never got together, not once. I met them through a three week writing course at a Boston college. Though we e-mailed some, we didn’t read each other’s pages, we didn’t share our dreams, aspirations, ambitions, fears. Needless to say, I didn’t get much out of it.

My second attempt at a writer’s group failed because of construction. Not story construction. Road construction. Cranes, front-end loaders, dump trucks, cement mixers. Ramps that disappear from week to week (if you live in Boston, you know what I mean). Driving from the South Shore of Massachusetts through the Big Dig to meet wouldn’t work for me; the 90 minute commute was too much.

I was determined to find a writer’s group; others who had reviewed my work gave me a taste of how valuable feedback can be. They had pointed out weaknesses, and strengths, in pages I had read ten times over, wondering what needed tweaking, or deleting. Writing is hard, addictive, and, at times, masochistic. I couldn’t go it alone. I knew that.

I was lucky: I found a group through my local library – a tiny link posted on a random page of my library’s website. I e-mailed the group’s contact. She asked for a writing sample. They liked it - enough. I was in.

We meet. Twice monthly. Have been for over a year. And it only takes 11 minutes to get there.

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