Today, for some light comic relief, I present the story of how I ignored most of yesterday’s advice, and nonetheless found my writing group.
I went to a writing workshop. This particular workshop was about electronic publishing and on-line presence. But here’s the thing about writing classes of any form: 99 percent of attendees are introverts, and at least half of the remaining one percent are… um, how to say this nicely… wacko. So, you turn up at this exciting class, and you find a whole room of nervous-looking people writing notes (before anyone’s said anything) and trying to look busy, because after years spent in front of their computers, they have no idea how to interact with strangers.
Being one of those people, I got out my notebook and began taking copious notes. I continued to scribble right up until the moment when we were supposed to write down our goals for the coming year. Then I wrote “FIND A WRITING GROUP” in big letters, and left my notebook conveniently open, hoping the writer sitting next to me (Rachelle Delaney, whom I sort of knew from CWILL meetings) might glance my way.
I went home and waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. And lo and behold, she called me and said she and her friend Kallie were starting a writer’s group. Did I want to join?
Well, glory hallelliuah! I did.
I never asked whether she actually saw my secret message.
Last week I promised advice on finding a writer’s group. Turns out, it’s a little like dating.
1. Hang out where other writers hang out. This might be at CANSCAIP meetings, or workshops, or even conferences. In Vancouver, you could try events at the Lyceum, or Roundtable presentations. And if you don’t have time for an evening class, try an on-line one like WritersWebWorkshop.
2. Once you’re at a workshop or event, talk to people! If you find someone who seems relatively normal, ask if she’s in a writing group. Tell her you’re looking for one. Be brave!
3. Network. If you don’t want to ask people directly, say something like, “Hey, I’m looking for a writing group or a critique partner. If you hear of anyone looking, let me know.” No pressure.
Of course, this only works if (a) you’re willing to read other people’s writing and (b) you can pay for a few workshops. There are varying degrees of time-committment and expense. But, if you’re pursuing writing as a career instead of a hobby, you’re going to have to invest a certain amount of time and money. You wouldn’t try to become a lawyer or a dentist by spending all your time by yourself in front of a keyboard.
Anyone else have helpful writer-dating advice? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments! Or tell me the story of how you met your critique partner. I’m posting my (socially inept and rather embarrassing) story tomorrow.