The story began like this:
My friend mentioned that she and another author were beginning a writing group and she wanted me to be a part of it. I had no clue what that meant, but my friend was insistent. Being supportive, I agreed. (Actually, I said: I'll come this time, but I'm not promising anything, but that's neither here nor there.)
Some of the concerns that kept me from sharing with others before the writing group:After pouring my soul into this, they're going to tear it apart until its no longer recognizable.
They're going to think it's crap...and tell me the 300 hundred ways that it sucks and 300 sucky ways to fix it.
What if they steal my ideas? Or publish something I've shared?
Honestly, these concerns are shared by 99.9% of novice writers, but sharing with those who are curious about what you're doing and do no more than praise your work will only take you so far. Prior to our first meeting, I had come to the conclusion that I would never get any better at my craft if I didn't receive honest feedback from someone who with more experience. One session of swapping pieces, snacks, and literary ambitions with a group of real writers was sufficient. After thirty years of being a "closet writer," the time to share my scribblings had arrived. The benefits of sharing outweighed the drawbacks.
Here's a glimpse of things I've learned from being part of a forgiving and very funny writing group:Blocking: Sarah, where did that wall come from? It just popped out of nowhere! Maybe you should work on that...
Word Use: Ummm...did you mean for his eyes to roll over the ground? Because literally, it sounds like his eyeballs are ROLLING across the floor.
Act Out Your Action: Did you try that Amy? Because I tried it, and it looks more like the Chicken Dance than flirting.
Watch for Trends: So...you used the word perhaps again. For perhaps the tenth time and each time was with a different character. Perhaps you should should reconsider your word choice.
More, Please: This is really good! I love it! More [insert: character development, thought processes, emotion, action, romance, etc.] please!
In the end, sharing with other writers helped refine my skills as a writer and editor. It's something I love doing today, and I will forever be grateful to the girls who started me on the path that led to a publishing contract.