Your Writing Community and Why You Need One: an Opinion

After getting a MFA in Fiction Writing (which is another post all together), I didn’t write another word for about two years. You could blame that fact I was a high school English teacher. Big high fives to all the teachers out there writing AND teaching. You could blame it on my newborn daughter who was very cute but took up a lot of time and energy. But looking back, the real blame was on my lack of a writing community and support network that went missing after graduating. Keeping that alive wasn’t discussed in any of our classes!

Almost two years after graduating, I emailed a writer friend of mine to ask her a question about her upcoming book. In addition to her answer, she added that she was busy on her second book, needed to get her butt in gear, and would I like to be writing buddies for the summer. I was scared to answer. What if I didn’t write every day? What if I didn’t make my word count? What if I let down my buddy?

What ended up happening, thanks to my daughter’s new nap schedule, was I started writing my first novel. My friend and I kept tabs on each other, offered encouragement, and virtual high fives. It took two years, but I finally had a completed first draft that was written about five hundred words at a time. This draft eventually became my debut young adult novel, MAN UP, and was released last April from Trism Books. (If you want to buy a copy, let me know!)

That was about ten years ago and my writing community now includes former classmates from my Novel in a Year class (remember them?!). We have a slack with a channel devoted specifically to “writing wraces.” There, we share progress and even a few sentences to show the fruits of our labor.

This sense of community is vital to my writing. Maybe I’m a needy person, but I need the support, validation, and encouragement. And I love being able to do the same for my friends.

Writing a book is a long process. It’s hard to slosh through it alone. There are many out there in the same boat as you. Find them! They need you! You need them!

Novel in a Year…or Two, or Three

The first 100 pages (or so) of THE WAR ON ALL FRONTS was written in Story Studio’s Novel in a Year- Young Adult/Middle Cohort which met from January, 2018-November, 2018. Obviously, I didn’t finish the whole book in a year but I got an incredible start, endless encouragement, and a community I will be forever grateful to be a part of. A community that I am still a part of, three years later. Clear space on your bookshelves. The people in the picture are going to have books coming out in the next few years. The man who made it all happen is the guy in the glasses in the back,. James Klise, our teacher.

I started the class with three pages written of this HUGE idea, having no clue if I was capable of pulling off something so big and so far outside of my experience and expertise. This class made me believe in my story and my ability to tell it. More about that in another post.

Out of twelve members of the class, nine of us still meet monthly to share pages, setbacks, and triumphs. Zoom has helped the members who have moved away stay in touch.

I wanted to get a novel out this class and ended up falling short in the page count but the community I gained is far beyond anything I thought possible.