Saturday, January 31, 2009

Writing Group, Week Two

I've attended my second week of writing group now. There are eight of us, with between four and six people submitting work each week.

There isn't a lot of socializing beforehand, which is appreciated. I made a few comments on other peoples work. I do feel a little lost as I'm jumping into some of the stories part way through.

It's nice to have experienced writers tell you what they think. The other authors seemed interested in my work and their feedback was positive and thoughtful changes and tweaks.

To get into the writing group, I first met Nancy Brown, author of a book about her battle with substance abuse called Facing Life. Nancy introduced me to Maureen Garvie, another Kingston author, professor, and respected editor.

In being introduced to Maureen I had two hopes. The first was to get into the writing group. The second was partly hoping that she might take on editing my story. She hasn't said "no," but she seems busy with her work schedule. I think she's also feeling out my writing style.

Having been critiquing writers for five years, it's hard to tell someone outright that they need A LOT of work to ever get published. It really is a waste of time line editing their work. The most valuable thing they can be told is they need A LOT of practice to be publishable. I don't think I'm at that stage, then again, most writers don't. I'll admit, I have a scene here and there that I reread and cringe at why I didn't change it.

It hurts to hear harsh criticism. I've heard it early in my writing days, but over the years, those same harsh critiquers were praising my progress and suggesting I enter certain pieces into competitions. Now, I feel I'm hovering at the publishable level, and with a decent editor I can get pushed over it.

Unfortunately, getting an editor can be a tricky business. For one, there are a lot of frauds out there. The website Preditors and Editors is a good place to look into the dangers of frauds, from agents and publishers to bad editors.

Through Critique Circle, I've had my work edited by other writers, which helps bring it up to a higher standard and weed out 95% of the little errors. Through the writing group, I'm proceeding at a snails pace of about five pages a week. At the current pace, it would take two years to scour through my entire manuscript with them.

It's an enjoyable experience and one where I'm learning quite a bit. Week three is tonight.

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