Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Little Help From My (Writing Group) Friends

Five years ago I took a course called "Jumpstart Your Writing" at Discover U taught by Roberta Cruger and shortly after that, she invited me to join her Tuesday night nonfiction writing group.

"Just bring something to read," she'd told me. And that's our Wednesday writers' group started. A few months later, Roberta left and Theo Nestor took over the lead and we changed times to Wednesday afternoon. We met above Carnegie's in Ballard and it was mostly dark and cold. We used plug in lamps and sometimes when the heat was out, we wore overcoats to keep warm.

Theo was finishing her memoir How to Sleep Alone in a King Sized Bed and pressed for more time, she had to leave the group. I think a few of us were in shock. We were leaderless, but right away travel-writer and world traveler Sharon Morris, lavender expert Kathy Gehrt and I went looking for a place where we could all meet. We were all committed to the group by that time.

Then, Sheila Kelly (third from left) offered her home in Ballard as a meeting place. When Sheila was gone, we met at Kathy's house.

Now we've been doing it for so long, here's the routine:
  • Every week we each bring from one to seven pages of writing to read.
  • Critiques and suggestions fill most of our three hours.
  • The rest of the time we swap information about books, Websites, author readings, classes and writing conferences. Suggestions are often offered when one of us is looking for a place to submit a story or article.

This year, four of us have published books: Discover Cooking With Lavender by Kathy Gehrt, Treadwell Gold by Sheila Kelly, The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook Debra Daniels-Zeller, and Elsie Hulsizer's second book detailing her sailing adventures in Alaska will be released in the fall.

Wendy Hinman (above 3rd from left) is working on her memoir about 7 years of sailing with her husband Garth. Sharon Morris (currently visiting family and friends in Israel) is working on a book about her socialist grandparents in Everett around 1900 and Jan Schwert (currently traveling in Eastern Europe) writes articles about connecting with people wherever she travels.

Joining a writing group has been instrumental in changing my writing. These women writer friends are committed writers and serious editors. And these days we're sharing marketing tips like crazy.

The synergy of a writing group can propel writers forward in amazing ways. And the best part? We're all there to support each writer's successes.

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