Writing is a solitary activity. I feel like I can lose perspective when I get too engrossed in my works in progress. Everything I write either seems too terrible and disjointed to be worth revising further, or so outstanding that the world will love it, if only I could manage to figure out how to publicize it. Losing perspectives drives to to extremes.
Of course the truth is somewhere in between. I need not only input from others on my work, but I also need an opportunity to interact with other people interested in reading and writing the same kinds of things as I do. And associating with people who will expand my horizons is a good idea, too.
|My critique group's anthology|
My writing critique group put out a brief anthology, Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Tales, in early October. It was a great project—we each wrote a story and exchanged manuscripts until we were all satisfied with all the stories. We paid for a cover and then for someone to format it, but one of our group was able to put it on Amazon for us. We decided a commercially available print copy was beyond us, at least for the time being, but we did produce some pamphlet-type copies. We’re not making a whole lot on it—we’ll consider ourselves fortunate if we recoup expenses—but it was a wonderful learning experience. We considered putting out another anthology with winter holiday stories, but finally decided we needed more time, and would aim for that next year.
In the meantime, with an eye toward that or a future anthology, I wrote a holiday short story. I was quite pleased with it, and thought it had an excellent O Henry-type twist at the end. The first person I gave it to for review was my husband. He read it, and his response was, “Huh? I don’t get it.”
So much for overconfidence.
The critique group meets again this Saturday, and we will decide on our next project. But I think I will need to either totally revise that story, or dump it firmly in the not worth further revising category.
I’ve joined a mystery book club. When I was working full time, I didn’t have time for that. But this group selected Steeled for Murder, the first in my series, and invited me to discuss it with them. When they asked me if I wanted to join the group, how could I resist?
My Sisters in Crime chapter has scheduled two book talks and sales, one in November and one in December. I signed up for both of them. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, and I actually sold a few books! More important, though, is the opportunity to talk to and socialize with other authors and fans in the area.
When I discovered that another author with my publisher, Musa Publishing, had moved to the area, we got in touch. Her name is Carrie Russell and she had a reading from her first book, Drowning Cactus, at a local coffee house. Of course I went. It was very successful--the coffee house underestimated the number of people who would come, and it was overwhelmed. Everywhere I looked people had bought a copy of the book to have signed. The book is character-driven, and touches on many environmental and social issues. The protagonist, Gordon, is stealing cacti from a national park, but when his activities are discovered, he’s mistaken for an environmental activist who is engaged in protest activities.
Later, I looked information up on Carrie, and discovered that she has a Harvard law degree and has been working in environmental law. Just as well I didn’t know that ahead of time—I would have been intimidated. As it is, I feel like I have a new writer friend.
How do you interact with writers and fans? Do you find it helps to attend activities with other people who are interested in contemporary fiction?