Monday, August 6, 2007

Writers Group - A Good Thing?

You bet! But there are people out there, writers I should say, that are not big proponents of participating in writers’ groups. Some say it will stifle your creativity and that you will be so busy critiquing and reading the work of your fellow group members that there won’t be time left to let your own creative juices flow.

Others say you will receive so much critique of your own work that you will be immobilized and afraid to write another word for fear of unkind comments. Some writers, they say, are forever looking for the “bad” in your work, perhaps even to elevate their own writings and musings.

Still others say it is impossible to find a group truly dedicated to writing, and that they are comprised of “wanna-be” writers that are not totally focused. That they won’t provide honest feedback, advice and suggestions that will be helpful simply because it is too part-time for each member.

And still there are other arguments.

But as many arguments as there are against writers’ groups, there are as many or more for writers’ groups. I’m here to say that writers' groups are wonderful!

I personally have participated in a number of groups...o.k., this is my third. But they have all been full of delightfully colorful characters and enriching conversations. Never, however, have I found such a diverse group of dedicated professionals as I have with the Humble Fiction Café.

Where to start...well, talent is a word that comes to mind. Members of our group have published articles, won contests, self-published books, held book-signings and some have written novels. One novel I read (unpublished as of now, but I believe just a matter of getting the book in front of the right person) is as good, and in many cases much better, than many of the books you will find available in any bookstore. We have inspired individuals in our group that can write a short story that makes you say “Wow!” Some are poetic and gifted at finding the exact right words to convey their message perfectly.

Through my experience with the Humble Fiction Café, there have been times I have felt overwhelmed with the talent in our group. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in the group that can’t get the right words on paper to express what’s in my heart. That my words don’t convey the image in my mind. That I am completely inefficient and a blundering storyteller.

Then I go to a meeting and learn that I’m not the only one experiencing writer’s block. I’m not the only one feeling less talented. I’m not the only one having difficulty in finding the time to write. I go to a meeting and learn that this is all a common thread.

Sometimes I refer to my writers group as group therapy. It certainly feels like that at times, and it has helped me through numerous difficulties, if nothing more than to be around pleasant adults with a common interest sharing stories and tales over coffee and tea. What a fantastic thing writers group is. Not only do I get valuable feedback from outstanding writers that I truly respect and enjoy, but I also get to hear stories and share laughter with an interesting and great group of friends.

My mom has frequently told me I need to go through a 12-step program (long story, and not for here). She’s probably correct in that I would benefit from the meetings, the sharing, and from learning and applying the 12-steps. But I get a great deal from within my group. No, not the 12-steps. But with the belief in a higher power (I call mine God) and the support and encouragement of a terrific group, I am able to forge ahead, remain optimistic, and continually improve my skill at writing.

If nothing else, the Humble Fiction Café motivates, encourages, supports and shares. It is a wonderful writers’ group, and I am proud to be a member. I am sure that each and every one of us will remember with fondness the work poured into our eventually published first book, Split, and I look forward to many more group and individual successes.

My name is Sheryl, and I’m a writer.