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Posts tagged ‘tribe’

First Monday mentoring for November – 5 selfish reasons to join writers’ groups

Happy first Monday in November, when I open this blog to your questions about writing. They can be on creative, craft or business matters. So ask away using the comment box below, or share your experiences as a writer with others.

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To kick things off, here’s a question I was asked at GenreCon in Brisbane recently. Why should writers join groups?

We all know the noble answers – to support other writers, share knowledge, give back to the profession yada yada yada. But what do YOU get out of belonging? Here are my five “selfish” reasons. See if you agree.

1. To find your tribe.
It’s human nature to want to belong. We’re tribal animals. As soon as I moved to the country town where I live, I went looking for a writers’ group. It turned out to be one primarily set up for new writers, but I joined anyway. Despite being at different levels of craft and experience, all the group members are writers, first and foremost. They understand the ebb and flow of ideas, and how hard it is to get started sometimes. They are my tribe.

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2. To get inside information.
In writing, insider trading isn’t a dirty word, it’s a necessary part of finding your way through the publishing maze. The more you get to know agents and editors via conferences and group newsletters, the easier it is to submit work to them when the time comes. You get to know what they’re looking for and how you should present your work. And they see your membership of a group as a sign of professional commitment.

3. You get encouragement and support

Yes, you support the other group members, but they are also there for you when you need it. Mention that you wrote 200 words today, and your non writer friends will look at you as if you’re crazy. Only 200? What did you do with the rest of your day? Only another writer understands that sometimes writing words is like pulling teeth. Dragging 200 or even 20 words out of your brain is an achievement to be celebrated. Ask anyone taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) throughout November, and they’ll tell you what a struggle it is to keep up your word count day after day, with the goal of writing 50,000 words by month end. You need your cheer squad.

4. Misery loves and needs company
Getting a rejection from a publisher or agent can be crushing. They’ve told you that your brain child is ugly. This is a lot to bear, and only your fellow writers fully get what you’re going through. They also understand the importance of a “good” rejection, when your work may not have crossed the finish line yet, but it’s still in the race. Non writers don’t understand a good rejection, but we do.

5. Celebrating your milestones
In the writing business, the steps to success can be a long way apart. From an editor requesting your partial manuscript, to asking to see the full (manuscript), then sending suggestions for revision, perhaps in a couple of rounds, to accepting the book – yay – can take a year or longer. Non writers only see two steps – submitting the book and becoming J K Rowling. Nothing in between makes sense to them, the way it does to us. Other writers will help you celebrate each step and cheer you on to the next. They won’t think you’re a failure because your book has taken a year of work and still isn’t “out there.” We know you’re making progress.

What do you get out of knowing other writers, either online or in person? Share your experiences via the comment box below, or ask a question and I’ll do my best to answer, cheer you through whatever stage you’re at, or pop the virtual champagne when you get there.

Valerie
http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews already up at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

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Finding your tribe, why it’s vital to writers

Okay, writing isn’t the only solitary occupation. Train driving is also lonely – but you don’t have to first invent the train.

I’m writing this from the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in Perth, Western Australia, where I’m their Established Writer-in-Residence for four weeks. The centre is the oldest of its kind in Australia and is set in the green hills behind Perth. My cottage is surrounded by bushy garden, a few minutes from the main house.  As this is my first experience as a writer-in-residence, I didn’t expect to feel so completely at home within minutes of getting here.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I was among my ‘tribe’

Anyone who has attended a writing conference will know what I mean. You may never have set eyes on these people before but you feel an instant kinship with them. They “get” what you’re about. If you talk about killing someone, they don’t call the police. They know you mean in your fiction. (At least we hope!)

They don’t look at you sideways when you mention writing 500 words in a day, because they know it’s progress on the day before when you wrote none.

They also understand that writing words is the most important thing in your life after your family. Well maybe equal with.

And that’s okay too.

It’s great to fit in

They don’t feel slighted if you break off in mid-conversation to write something down so you won’t forget it. They’ve been there and done that.

They completely understand why you’re still in your jammies at 4pm

Far from making you a slacker and a slob, it means you had other priorities, most of them to do with writing.

They also understand the meaning of a “good rejection.” No other profession gets so excited when a publisher turns you down, but with encouraging comments about your work.  We know how much that means.

Settling in to this place dedicated to writers and writing was practically instant. I love that my accommodation has a huge desk under a window, with a view all the way to the Perth skyline. That’s inspiration for you. And that it has a proper office chair so I can spend as long as I want writing without killing my back.

The cottage also came with a basket of goodies including Lindt blueberry chocolate, Ferrer Rocher chocolates, fresh dates (are we sensing a theme here?) and wonderful fruit teas.

All they ask in return is that I write and talk about writing

During my stay I’ll complete my own project, give a workshop, read my work at a literary dinner, and talk about books at a breakfast open to the public. Many writing groups meet at the centre and I want to visit as many as I can. I started with a poetry group and loved every minute, even though poetry isn’t my thing. Hey, it’s writing and they’re writers, what more do I need?

Where is your tribe? At a particular place? Perhaps online? How did you find them and what do they mean to you?

To me? Everything.

Valerie

In residence at www.kspf.iinet.net.au

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

 

 

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