I found this quote on Pixabay and it seemed oddly appropriate to my intention today which is to share with you some information and advice about joining a writer’s group, and to inform you about Virginia Bergin’s forthcoming scheduled talk at Cambridge Writers, in December, debut author of sci-fi, apocalyptic/dystopian horror-thrillers, The Rain, and The Storm.
WritingTip: Don’t wait for the storm to pass, don’t wait for the writer’s groups and opportunities to come to you, go out and find them, even if it is pouring with rain and you’d rather stay in and watch telly! Go out, switch the telly off, learn new skills, discover new friends, dance in the rain if need be, sample all there is on offer!!
I am very fortunate, as there are several Writer’s groups here in Cambridge. I joined Cambridge Writers over two years ago, and I’m so glad that I did, I have found it a wonderful source of help and support. I’m coordinator of the Children’s Writing Group, and the go to person if you’d like to find out more about the group: http://www.cambridgewriters.net/members/51_marjorie_mallon
So with this in mind I’d like to share with you my twelve reasons why I think it is important to join a writer’s group.
Reasons why you should join a Writer’s group:
It enables you to meet with and share ideas with other writers on a regular basis.
There are often special evenings with visiting authors coming to discuss their novels/writing.
As well as this you might find there are discussion sessions on particular topics which may be of interest to you.
You will meet with a wide range of people, this is a certainty, writers tend to be an interesting bunch of people!
It tends to be a supportive environment, with more experienced writers, (some of whom have been published,) giving invaluable advice and help to new writers.
Yes, Positive criticism is offered, but it will be done in a way that is constructive and helpful rather than upsetting and demotivating.
You have the joy of reading out your masterpiece in front of a small select audience of fellow writers who listen attentively and then pass comment.
No 7. may sound a bit daunting. I have to confess this was a bit scary the first time I read out my story but you will soon find that it doesn’t bother you anymore. It is such a confidence building exercise!
Often there are differing groups which you can attend, depending on the size of the writer’s group. Cambridge Writers caters for poets, writers of long prose, short prose, travel writing, and children’s writing. You may try forms of writing that you have never tried before, in my case I am now finding myself drawn to short prose, travel writing, and I’ve even written a few pieces of poetry!
There are all sorts of ways to get involved, in my case I have taken over as coordinator of the children’s writing group. In my new role as coordinator I have been able to use my social media contacts to find a speaker for the next author’s event, Virginia Bergin debut author of The Rain, and The Storm is coming to speak at Cambridge Writers on Tuesday 1st December: http://virginiabergin.com/
It is fun! You will meet new friends, drink lots of tea and coffee, consume a ridiculous amount of biscuits, cakes, and crisps, and might even go to the pub afterwards!
It is far better than watching the telly, if you join I promise that you will never be bored again! Boredom what is that?
As well as this we are also very fortunate to have a wonderful script writing group in Cambridge that you can get involved in if drama is your thing. I have been along to this a few times and sampled what they have to offer and have to say I was very impressed. I even had a go at some acting, which was such fun: http://www.writeon.org.uk/
There are also a plethora of on-line writing groups too, one that comes to mind is Rachael Ritchey’s Weekly Writing Blog Battle. I’d definitely recommend this friendly bunch of Blog Battlers, do join in the fun: http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/
Esther Newton is a writing tutor that I met with in person this August at the Bloggers Bash event in London. She has a great blog with lots of writing prompts, a weekly writing challenge, and writing competitions, and markets for writers. Check out her current Flash competition, get your skates on if you want to join in, the deadline is this Sunday, 15th November: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/flash-fiction-competition-2015/
Describli, too, an online community “that uses writing prompts to spark creativity and connect readers and writers.” https://describli.com/
And of course there is Nanowrimo, which I must confess I have never done!! One day perhaps, here’s the link to find out more about this online National Novel Writing Month: http://nanowrimo.org/
So what are you waiting for!!! No excuses there are lots of ways to get involved, either to start writing or to progress your writing.
No doubt numerous other bloggers offer word prompts and a range of ways to get involved, so if I haven’t mentioned you here and you would like to be on this list do leave a message in the comment field below, and I’ll add you too.
Hope you found this list of resources and advice helpful.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves a little pick me up, a reminder to Do What We Love, even if that particular thing that we love seems difficult to achieve. Just recently I have been querying agents, and been getting some knock backs. This is all part of becoming a writer, in fact it’s almost like I’ve completed my first test in an initiation ceremony, up until this point I wasn’t a fully fledged member of the writing society. Once you suffer rejections you join the club. So, instead of being disappointed maybe I should view this as a positive rather than a negative step? I’ve joined the Esteemed Authors Never Give Up Club, yippee, it’s got a certain ring to it, even the likes of J.K. Rowling can claim to be a member.
“J.K Rowling was famously rejected by a mighty 12 publishers before Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was accepted by Bloomsbury – and even then only at the insistence of the chairman’s eight-year-old daughter.”
So, whatever your dream may be, remember to always Do What You Love. Somehow if you follow that simple rule I’m sure you will never go wrong. So, whether you like to sing, dance, act, write, read, draw, paint, cook, eat, travel, photograph, laugh, blog!!!! Ok, that last one crept in there without my noticing. JUST DO IT!
Whatever it is you love to do, keep on going…..
If you need a bit of encouragement right now feel free to share the sentiments of this blog post, give yourself a pat on the back, why not? My only request is that you confess any setbacks you are currently experiencing, but remember if you really love what you do, don’t ever, ever, give up!
This blog post was inspired in part by a discussion I had on Facebook about the difficulties of getting published. The FB chat I had was with Virginia Bergin author of the YA, science fiction, dystopia, The Rain, (the Rain#1) andThe Storm, (The Rain #2.)
This is Virginia’s inspiring reply: “It’s a tough old business! I’d been doing my own writing (alongside all kinds of other jobs) for about 20 years before The Rain happened. It was pretty much the first novel I’d written, and certainly the first YA novel. I thought it would get rejected. For sure! I think we have to love what we do so much that we do just keep going . . . and I suppose we learn more with everything we write. That definitely happened with me; I had a LOT of practice! Keep going . . . Best wishes! Vx”
Virginia is so right, we never stop learning, so that means we have enormous potential to keep on improving. There is an abundance of hope on the horizon, though a few rain and storm clouds are brewing too!
I’d like to highlight an article that Virginia Bergin suggested to me that might be of interest to female writers who are new to the industry, who may feel that they don’t quite fit the typical writer’s profile, may feel a bit lost, or isolated, and would benefit from a writing mentoring service:
“WoMentoring aims to offer help to female writers who would otherwise not have access to support. Although it’s a project set up to redress a gender imbalance in publishing, my personal hope is that it will act on other imbalances too – race, class, household income, cultural tradition, schooling – because there must be some overlap in the perceived lack of opportunity there.”
“Cambridge Writers is an organisation of both published and unpublished writers in Cambridge (U.K.) and nearby towns and villages. It has been in existence for about 60 years. Currently it has about 80 members.”
It just struck me today that I have been a member of Cambridge Writers since June 2012. How time flies. I am so very glad that I joined and would like to encourage other budding writers to join a writer’s group.
There are so many benefits of joining a Writer’s group. First of all, you meet like-minded people of varying ages from many diverse walks of life. I have found the Children’s Writing group, to be a wonderful source of support and advice. Whether you need someone to give you constructive criticism of your work, advise you on finding an agent, or explain how to structure a picture book, there are members who are happy to do what they can to help. We are lucky to have writers within the group who have either become published since joining the group, or who have come ready-made!
Several new members have joined this year, one of whom, Isabel Thomas, is an experienced children’s non-fiction writer who has now started writing fiction. Alex Mellanby published the second book in the Tregarthur series, Tregarthur’s Revenge, in June. This followed excellent reviews for the first book, Tregarthur’s Promise. Lesley Hale has self-published the following books: Witness, (Matthew Reed, Tudor Adventures #1), An Act of Treason, (Matthew Reed, Tudor Adventures #2) and A Wry Smirk at The Dark Side (four short stories on supernatural themes.) Ruth Hatfield’s first book in her trilogy was published in November by Hot Key Press (UK) and Henry Holt (US). The Book of Storms was officially launched in the UK at Heffers in Cambridge. The sequel to The Book of Storms, The Colour of Darkness, is coming out in November, again published by Hot Key, Books.
Cambridge Writers comprises these diverse groups that meet on a monthly basis in member’s houses: Short Prose, Long Prose, Travel writing, Children’s Writing, Poetry, and a Commercial Editing Group for those amongst us who have already published or self-published novels. So there are masses of ways to get involved.
As well as these monthly sessions Cambridge Writers holds meetings on the first Tuesday of the month in which we invite authors to come talk to us, share their wisdom, and on the 5th of May there is to be a Writer’s resources evening. So what are you waiting for, check out the local writing groups in your area, and if you live in Cambridge, England, here’s the links to find out more: http://www.cambridgewriters.net/.
I am looking forward to getting more involved in the group.
Late Blooming Authors
To conclude my Do What You Love post I’d like to focus next on several famous authors who started later in life. How encouraging!!! This is to encourage my fellow potential late bloomers. I only started writing seriously about three years ago!
Here’s my list, I’m sure there are many more, but for the purposes of this blog post, I’m sticking to these inspiring guys and gals:
Mary Alice Fontenot wrote almost thirty books in her lifetime, and her writing career began at the age of fifty-one. Fontenot’s first Clovis Crawfish book, Clovis Crawfish and his Friends was published in 1961.
Anthony Burgess never pursued writing seriously until he was thirty-nine, aware that it was not a stable income, when he published the first installment of The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy (1956’s Time for a Tiger).
Laura Ingells Wilder. As a child, Wilder lived in a little house on the prairie, no surprise there! She actually began writing around the age of forty-four, whilst she was working as a columnist, and had a pretty successful freelance career. But it wasn’t until 1931, when she published Little house in The Big Woods, that Laura Ingells Wilder really made a name for herself. She was the ripe old age of sixty-four. The when I’m 64………, Beatles song lyrics come to mind.
Helen De Whitt., DeWitt’s excellent debut novel, The Last Samurai, was published in 2000, when Helen De Whitt was forty-four years old. Apparently she attempted to finish many novels, before finally completing The Last Samurai, her 50th manuscript, in 1998.
George Eliot, Mary Anne Evans, published her first novel, Adam Bede when she was forty.
Middlemarch would not be published for fifteen years!
William S. Burroughs. Sadly, it took accidentally shooting his wife in the head to get Burroughs focused on writing. In the introduction to Queer, a novel written in 1952 but not published until 1985, he stated: “I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing.” He began writing Queer while he awaited trial. He was convicted of culpable homicide, given a two-year suspended sentence and moved to Morocco and started writing like mad. He was thirty-nine when he published his first confessional book, (Burroughs was a heroine addict.) In 1953 he published Junky, and he was forty-five when Naked Lunch was published, in 1959.
Charles Bukoski quit his day job to devote himself to writing at age forty-nine, saying, “I have one of two choices-—stay in the post office and go crazy … or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve.” He did not, in fact, starve. He had finished his first novel, Post Office, at fifty-one years old, within four weeks of leaving the post office and just kept going from there, eventually publishing thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels.
Margot Finke didn’t begin serious writing until the day her youngest left for college. She writes mid-grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. Margot said, “I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!”
Mary Wesley published a few children’s books in her fifties, but people didn’t notice her talent until she published her first novel, “Jumping the Queue,” at seventy years old. Jumping the Queue takes place mainly in Cornwall, and follows a middle-aged woman’s struggle with guilt and self-reproach after the death of her husband and her determination to jump the queue by committing suicide. The book was turned down by several publishers, but James Hale of Macmillan saw something special in her work, and by the time of her death at ninety years old, she was widely popular.
Lee Child: At the age of forty he sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, that became the first in the Jack Reacher series. The book won the Anthony and Barry Award for best first novel.
“To anybody who is an aspiring writer,” Child said, “this is a great career because not only can you, but you should, start late.”
“I think it’s the ideal career to do later in life,” Child said. “You know, by the time you’ve experienced stuff and read stuff and seen stuff–just wait. Wait ten years, wait twenty years, wait until it’s ready to come back out. People who start writing too young, it’s essentially a hollow thing, you know, they haven’t lived enough, they haven’t experienced enough, they haven’t learned enough.”
Raymond Chandler was forty-five, when he began publishing pulp crime short stories. Six years later, he published his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” which launched his stellar successful crime writing career.
So, late-blooming writers are quite an amazing bunch. Don’t you agree? Just hope I might have a tiny smidgen of this late-blooming talent, still of plenty time!!!!!
A final quote:
“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them. ”
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