Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Value of a Writers Group--& Fueling Her Mind With Sugar

            I just got back from a fantastic ANWA writers retreat. We stayed in a cabin (with electricity and Internet service!) for three days and ate and laughed and had workshops and wrote. One of the women there completed the first draft of her novel. I got a phenomenal amount of work done on what I’m writing right now, and I really appreciate the women who worked so hard to organize the event. It was, simply, great.

            I’m finding there’s real value in belonging to a writers group. When I began writing novels, I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off (besides my dear husband), or to read sections I’d labored over, or to ask questions about the business. It was like going through a tunnel with nothing but the LED of a cell phone to light a few steps.

            Then my publisher recommended I join this group. I’d heard of it, even been invited once before, but I didn’t think I had time. My children were small, and they were demanding. I wanted all my hobby time to be devoted to actual writing, not a meeting—but when he told me I should, I did.

            And it’s been super.

            Now, when I get stuck, I have a sisterhood to turn to. (We’re all LDS women.) I don’t have to corral strangers into listening to passages of my work. I remember one afternoon I bugged my across the street neighbor and asked her to come over and listen to my novel for two or three hours. Bless her heart, she did. Thank goodness, after joining ANWA, I can stop that madness. And keep some of my friends!

           Instead, I have like-minded people who are willing to share that burden. In return I’m happy to help critique others’ writing. It’s been very instructive to see others’ writing process, and I’ve been able to glean much insight from their beautiful words—and their friendship. I'm not muddling through in the dark anymore. Other with more experience hold up their lights for me and help me move forward. Now it's like about TWO HUNDRED and FIFTY little cell phone LED lights going through that same tunnel all at once!

            The retreat was divine. Besides camaraderie, we also shared FOOD—I’m talking, snack table from heaven. There were homemade chocolate chip cookies, cream-filled black licorice, M&Ms, chocolate covered popcorn (my addition), Red Vines, peanuts, some amazing Gorgonzola cheese crackers, lemon cookies drizzled with chocolate, candy bars, more candy bars, and more candy bars.

            I think candy fuels the writer’s mind. Am I wrong?

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