After yesterday’s harrowing look at freelancing let’s tone it way down today and think about writer’s groups. Writers groups are great for amateurs but not useless for many professionals and hope-to-become professionals.
Have I belonged to any writer’s groups myself? Answer: yes, but. Many years ago now, while in my 20s I tried a local writers group. I had written before, a little more than what was necessary in a literate culture and good schools. In this case, by good schools I’m including university, which definitely kept me doing some evaluated writing.
Around the era in which I was a graduate student in England and mother to a toddler and ‘partnered’ the guy who was my partner had to give me rides most of the time and he brought me to at least one writer’s group at my request.
I tried it. It was English people. It was ok but did not last long. Much more recently, I have only been involved with online writer’s groups that I found at LinkedIn and I was more active in 2011 and 2012 than in 2013.
Writer’s groups are recommended as ‘Kosher’ for developing writers.
There are professional and amateur writers. There are also definitions in life. Personally, I lump those who write the TV news in with the poets and the novelists. I have met writers who either really don’t want to be paid or who are pressured to pretend they don’t want to receive money for their efforts. Most, like myself, do want to be paid well enough to have a respectable income: enough to cover overhead costs of a place to live, utilities etc.. and not just “it will be enough for you as long as you live off of other people while you do it”.
Bloggers may be amateurs or professionals. I am one of the ones who only went pro as a writer due to passion and interest as an amateur. I have met a number of competent professional writers who got into it as a job after college who never had any natural passion for it, and didn’t even want to be writers. One example is the managing editor of Hypergrid Business: she is a woman from some of my high school math classes. She even got a math degree and was turned into a writer. That’s not what happened to me at all. What happened to me was that I was a passionate reader who wrote for school and for fun now and then who kept working towards or trying to have or to get a decent ‘real job’ a ‘good day job for college graduates’. Instead I ended up backed into a corner and wrote in the hopes of getting paid for doing what I love despite divorce and feeling way too much as though I had done something rather like painting oneself into a corner or mopping an interior domestic floor in such a way as to be trapped until it all dries or risk making a mess.
Because of that I became way more flexible and ghostwrote books, and wrote articles and blog posts without bylines for pay as a freelancer. My original intent had been to work a good day job and to write a series of novels, probably science fiction novels as I’m one of the minority of women who really read lots of that and liked it. Sadly, it seems to be a shrinking genre.
Once I came to believe that I should at least try to make being a professor my day job, I knew that meant I might be expected to write a few tomes of knowledge or to otherwise get published in the field in which I taught for a living.
Many middle aged people have learned both success and failure.
I only ever tried to be a writer because I was raised in a literate society and was talkative and loved to read…so I also tried writing. I found out I was a writer and after some of my other day job hopes were slowly crushed, I realized it would help a lot if I would go pro and get paid to write…uh, by that I mean sooner rather than later.
Blogs are regular written amateurs just looking for some attention and sympathy and all kinds of other people. I do read the odd post by other people, including more advanced professional writers.
When I was just a girl, I read avidly. To be truthful I did not care very much who the author was until or unless I liked a number of their stories. I was not against authors being paid and had actually jumped to the wrong conclusion that all novelists are well paid and that the profession is a good paying one.
Up to that point my main connection with other authors was having read their work or else having some kind of intuitive psychic natural connection to them that could be easily overlooked. When I first wrote a novel I intended to not go further afield to connect with other writers intending only to submit to publishers and agents and not worry about the others trying to work in the same field. What I am not mentioning is the reality that my boyfriend’s youngest brother lived in the same house and was also writing a novel during part of the same time. Their father was a professional writer and their mother was their father’s business partner and support staff as well as being their mother. This set of circumstances made writing a novel fit into the situation in a way that is more natural than it may have been for many. The older woman and I are both left handed which may not have any direct relevance but perhaps on some subtle psychological levels it does. Forgive me for saying so, but I viewed the younger brother as a good friend and pretty much like the younger brother I never had. I have both an older brother and an older sister. To this day I believe he is a good fellow and I like him very much and really. As for his older brother – I fell madly into love with that guy but sometimes we degenerated into a love/hate dynamic and ended up only spending about 5 years together, even though when he asked me to marry him it only took me 5 minutes to tell him ‘Yes’. Notice that I didn’t answer with No. Big difference, or so I thought at the time. They have another brother who I went to school with who is charming and attractive and now has 4 children one of whom is the age of my child. We knew one another but were not ever particularly close but had some of the same close friends or associates. Yet another brother-in-law. That guy is not a writer either as far as I know.
Over a decade later, such chaos occurred regarding that book that it has yet to be published and it was not until 16 years later that I wrote another book. I did that as a ghostwriter. This time, I tried here and there to connect with other professional writers. I was not honestly sure whether or not it would do any good for me to do so, but I liked interacting with real people more than I wanted to read books about the writing and publishing industry so in that sense it worked better. Since 2003 I have written more than 5 books but mostly I just ghostwrote part of something or it was a little short or something and I was paid some money, but not enough to make me financially independent or middle class or anything as I had naturally hoped.
Long about 2005 I began to find other writers in ways that were not contrived. They began to show up at a cafe that I had frequented since 1999. In 2006 I finally wrote another novel and edited it during 2007. It was nothing like the first one at all except that it was written in the English language. This is not even the same genre, but has made it out a little bit and has a publisher who swears they will get around to releasing it before I die of unnatural causes or old age.
Since 2006, I have also connected with other professional writers both in person and online. Off the top of my head, I managed to interact with Barb Shoup because she openly runs the Writers Center in Indianapolis and does not hide the fact that she is an author as well as a wife and a teacher. I met Mike Z Williamson at a Inconjunction XXX in Indianapolis because he was on a panel discussion that I attended because they were talking SF and I have been harboring hopes that I will manage to generate and make enough money to be financially supported by 3 to 6 SF novels, probably as 2 series, a plan that developed during the writing of the aforementioned very first novel which is now partially re-re-re-rewritten. Twice, the rewrites were devastated by computer hardware failures and at least once a beloved German ended up playing the accidental anti-Christ and wiped out my computer files. Once, the writing was interrupted when real life events began to take on an undesireable resemblance to the reality of the situation. Anyways, Mike was genuinely friendly and accessible as well as good looking and close to my age. He even introduced me to his kids and wife and has met my son in person….He is a more advanced SF published novelist. Jaqueline Lichtenburg has politely corrected me online about a few points and LJ Sellers and Nancy Holzner have interacted a little bit. Then there are a few others who are just beginning professional novelists like myself include Jesilea Ryan who’s first novel 4000 Miles has been released since I first met her online. I have not met all of these people in person. David Burkhead writes SF short fiction, if you read magazine SF. Sometimes I feel that it does help to interact with other professional writers but I am still not always even sure it does.