I never thought I would say this, but it really helps to belong. All of my life I’ve done things on my own, with little to no help from anyone. All of my choices in education and the funding thereof, has been of my choosing and from my pocket. Most major life decisions have also been solely mine–at least until I got married, but even then I still make most of the decisions and just clear it with my wife prior to execution. That has always been the way I am.
Part of “not being a team player” is what draws me to writing. The art and craft is a very isolated experience for the bulk of everything. When working on a story the only one to keep me company, the only one I have to work with are the very characters I create. The process of spilling them out takes hours upon hours of just me and my keyboard.
Once, I reached out to a local writer’s group, but they were all poets and mostly stay at home moms with nothing better to do with their time. Not to discredit their art, but their purpose was different from mine. I want to do this for a living and not as a way to kill time like needlepoint or puzzles. Hell, if I don’t do this sometimes it feels like I start to go crazy. I need to write.
The past 15 years I’ve virtually lived under a rock, honing my skills and teaching myself how to do what I love to do. Once or twice I searched for workshops or literary groups, in order to find a new avenue of learning or to touch base on where I was at. Needless to say, I still did it alone.
Two years ago, I discovered Genre conventions and the writing workshops that some of them provide. As is my course, I sought a few out in order to learn a little more, to get a status on my efforts. This allowed me to be introduced to Michigan authors, others who aspire as I do. These people are very serious about their craft. I was amazed.
Christine Purcell and Stewart Sternburg are very passionate (Stewart a bit animated too) about their art. They are also very willing to help anyone else who is passionate about their art. They recently invited me to join their writer’s group. Normally, I would be hesitant. As I said earlier, my past experiences have not been that positive. But this is definitely the exception. Having been through a writer’s workshop with these two individuals, I knew a little about what to expect. This helped me feel positive about reaching out from under my rock joining something.
So far, I’m very glad I did. Not only am I learning how to better edit my writing by editing other’s work and seeing how other’s edit, but I’m also learning from the mistakes all of us make and the other writers point out. Last night, Stewart gave a similar speech about characterization to the one he made at ConClave. Charles Zaglanis of Elder Signs Press made some very good points about word choice and characterization. Christine brought to the meeting some very interesting tidbits about changes in the industry. The newer members, whose names I’ve yet to learn, also offered very good input.
As part of this group, I will continue to learn and hone my craft in greater strides than by myself. It will also keep me to task working on my craft, as I need to get the critiques done in a timely manner and I also wish to have something of my own to contribute to the melee. It has been a long time since I’ve felt this positive about my dream. In of itself, that is enough reason to continue my membership in the group. As someone who battles depression every day, anything that I can add to my life which brings me joy and hope is a good thing.
So writers, you should search out a good writer’s group or form a group that is both positive and critical in a constructive manner, so that you may grow your craft, feel camaraderie from your fellow artisans, and grow in your art.
Possibly the last issue of Realms of Fantasy is now available as a PDF download. Enjoy.
RIP one of the few places to find easily accessible Genre fiction in print format