Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Do I need a writing group

Do I need a writing group?

In my last blog I told you how I feel lonely sometimes in this journey as a writer.  I came to know that it's not only me, many published and well known authors  including Jack London and Hemingway felt the same way.

Writing is a solitary journey, yet we want to see our readers, need a hand sometimes from a fellow writer and feel willing to do the same.

In that quest I joined a Writers club and volunteered to read the first page of my novel to a group whom I have never met.

In a crowded room at a corner we, five such writers who signed off to be critiqued sat and read each others work and  at the end gave a  feed back.  I got such harsh cirticism that it took me two weeks to recover.  I felt numb as I sat in front of  my journal to write.  What's the use of writing this novel?  No one would read it any way. It is too foreign to them.

Then one day it dawned on to me that I was not very honest  as a critique to the other four writers either.  When   I said to one of them that  I'd turn the first  page and read more, I was just polite.  That gibberish of Speculative Science or the mystic, magical, allegorical alligator's story the other one shared  ...they are not my kind.  Besides I  do not really know how to critique others work very well yet.  I can say if I like it or not,  but why or why not ...that's a different level.

No wonder all readers are not my readers and not everyone will be interested in my work It is true that not every one may want to know  how my protagonist, a twelve year girl from undivided India of 1940s felt when she had to leave everything she knew as her home and be a refugee. They might not  be willing to read her story. They might be interested in Speculative Science genre.  I am not.

Not all groups are beneficial for a writers soul either.

 Actually this was a negative experience and I should not put myself to that position,  I promised to myself, at least until I finish  the first draft of my novel. It hurts the creative soul. Yes, yes I am aware of the great quotation:

"People ask for criticism, but they only want praise." - William Maugham

We all want different things from a writer's group and the group will only work if your motivation align warns Allison Tait  in her blog.

Following Tuesday I went to my informal Writers Friends group. We know each other and know why we write what we write. I do not expect that in real life.  In  real world  I'd not  know my readers or they would know me personally.  I would be judged by my work,  but for now this is important.

I read what I wrote, part of that fiction,  and got feed back from my friends.   They  told  me  clearly why something worked, why not, helped me with grammar or  found a  more appropriate word to improve the piece.

"Critique is not about changing your story. It's about improving the relating of the story to the reader". says Tara K. Haret.

And I felt so thankful to them. They were genuinely interested to know what I wrote.  And the same thing happened to me.

When I  was driving  back home I  was thinking of Wayne's story. I could see his father riding a wagon in the 1930 era.  I sincerely wished Sylvia's poem should be published and where would Jane's personal essay about  her friend's loneliness find a niche?

This warm community is nurturing to our writer soul.  We cherish it and feel it nourishes us.

Do you have a writers' group?  What are your thoughts about it?  I am looking forward to knowing your experience in the comments below.