New Quest: Finding a Writer’s Group

Good grief, I got to get out of this role-playing mode. It’s beginning to affect everything I write.

So after a lot of hemming and hawing, I am finally starting my writer’s group search. I got a couple of leads, one from my daytime job and one from my farming job. I’ve also been checking out various websites and postings on Craigslist.

Also, I’ve been reading up on details on how exactly to find a writer’s group. For instance, a blog post at The Fix talks about what makes writing groups work. Holly Lisle got an article about on her site (actually, she has a lot of good stuff on there). And I’ve been considering my own experience of being in a writer’s group.

When I started writing again back in 2004, there were a couple of groups that I shuffled between. Both met at the libraries near me, and mainly had roughly 15 to 20 people. We dutifully brought our work which we passed out to each other, and we spent a good half-hour reading silently their work. Then we came together to critique. Most of the time, I was the only fantasy/sci-fi writer (there was another guy who wrote sci-fi, but considering he had put “himself” in the story, it became blatantly obvious that he was really living on a different plane of existence than us). Everyone else wrote poetry or literary stuff or non-fiction essays. Everyone thought that their stuff was the best–and that the publishing companies would weep if they could bother to read their stuff; but no one actually made any effort to publish (I later learned that one person was indeed published–at fanfiction.net). After a couple of weeks, I stopped going. I wanted to do serious work, not just go to the group and pat myself on the back for finishing another story that would sit on my hard drive.

Then after some searching around, I heard about a group that met at a local Barnes and Noble. When I went in, the first thing I noticed was that they met in the coffeeshop area, which nicely evoked images of chain-smoking, nails-bitten-to-the-quick artistes who argued about POV styles over lattes. That charmed me. (Well, there really wasn’t any chain-smoking, considering that you couldn’t smoke in any building now in Illinois, but that’s besides the point.) The group was smaller, though at times it did stretch to about 12 or so. Sitting closer together, rather than in a humungous square at the library, made it feel more intimate. More friendly.

I think that’s what really drew me to this group. The people were actually friendly with each other and wanted genuine criticism on their work, not just a pat on the back. They wanted to know what worked. And though not everyone wrote in the same genre, there was a sense of respect of each other’s work. In fact, it helped me learn how to critique other genres, and use them to sharpen my own skills.

It was a nice group for where I was at the time. Now that I have several published stories under my belt, however, I think it’s time to find a group that’s more genre-specific. A group where I can discuss how to write speculative fiction, perhaps do some reading of fantasy/sci-fi books and discussing their styles. I want to find a group where I can hone my craft at.

All I got to do is just…find it.

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2 Responses

  1. You wrote: “All I got to do is just…find it.”

    To which I say: Or you could just. . . start it!

    (Mary B., from IBC)

  2. Oh, Thanks! Really interesting. keep working!

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