Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Revising the Novel - Writing Groups part 2

Continuing on with our discussion of writing groups and a long answer to the simple question, should I join one?

5) Committment of members. It's not easy writing, reading, meeting. it requires time and dedication. We meet every month, but at times, like right now when a member is gearing up for the Maui Writing Conference, we meet every two weeks. Everyone must be committed to this. The goal is to help each other succeed.

6) Your writing. In addition to the writing group, you must commit yourself to learning your craft. You can't rely on the group to "turn" you into a writer, nor to make mediocre writing, spectacular. A group is a useful tool, a fine-tuning instrument to prepare your writing for broader readership. It isn't, in and of itself, a substitution for classes, courses, reading and studying. You still must learn your craft.

7) Your fragility. Writing is not a career for the fragile. You're not here for the ego strokes, so if you decide to really commit yourself to writing, park your sensitivity at the door. Good or bad, not everyone will like everything you write, sometimes they're wrong. More often than not they're right.

8) Your filter. Your job is to take the critique and filter it through the mesh of your own certainty. You're the only one who knows what you're trying to do. If two people read something and one likes it, one doesn't, it comes back to you to decide if it's good or not. Opinions vary. If you love it, have the balls to keep it. If it always bothered you a little, then cut it. But if you send it to your group, and everyone agrees that a certain part is weak, or trite, or cliched, or just plain dumb, odds are it is. Keeping then would be an act of egotism. If the group hates it, it probably needs to be redone.

Now, you may wonder why this post is filed under my Revising the Novel section. It doesn't appear to be as directly related to revising as the Ten Point Revision Strategy or the Know Your Theme posts. But it is.

We'll get there next time.

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