Tag Archives: writing communities

Newbies Matter

Yesterday, Dear Hubby took our middle son with him to a golf tournament. Eldest couldn’t make it due to another committment and one other player backed out of the foursome. Enter Middle as a back-up player.

He just turned eleven and until about six weeks ago, he hated golf. Yet for some reason this spring, he started saying yes to his father’s invitation to play. According to DH, Middle has a natural swing. But he’s young. And unpracticed for the most part. Still, they were short a guy and the tourney was a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis–a cause near and dear to our hearts.

During the game, they used two of Middle’s shots. Not because they had to, but because they HAD to. His two drives had the best lie. Nobody really expected this ungolfed youth to add value, so they were thrilled when he pulled through.

Over on AgentQuery Connect and other writing sites, it’s not uncommon to hear new writers claim they have nothing to offer in regards to critiques. While it’s true that more experienced writers have more experience to pull from, this doesn’t negate the fact that newbies still have something to offer.

As readers, they have an opinion. They know if they like a book, a character or a plot line and why. They know if something doesn’t ring true or if something feels forced. They either connect to a piece or they don’t. This is valuable for writers to hear, because the general population of readers don’t have writing experience. But they do know if a piece resonates with them or if something rings false. They, too, have opinions that can drastically impact the financial success of a book.

Newbies might not always know how to fix the things they feel or see wrong with a piece, but they can point them out. They can take a shot at giving the writer commentary that will ultimately lead to a better lie–and maybe a better reception with potential audiences.

Yesterday was a great experience for Middle. He got to practice his golf game, experience tournament etiquette and hopefully pick up on some of the nuances of golf by watching his teammates.  He also legitimately helped out his team. Not bad for a day’s work in the life of a newbie golfer.

Critiquers and writers speak up. What are your experiences with critiquing? Please share your memories and feelings as a newbie. Let us know how your critique style has changed over the weeks/months or years. What is your biggest strength in terms of critiquing, the one thing that comes natural to you as a reader?

Curious minds want to know.

What’s Your Writing Vision?

And no, I don’t mean hitting the best-seller list and appearing on Oprah.

Middle Son’s batting average this baseball season has been disappointing.  It was as if all his ball savvy had disappeared from one year to the  next.  He wasn’t aggressive when approaching a grounder and backed off pop flies.  He’d either under-throw, over-throw or just plain miss his mark.

Slow on the uptake, I said, “Self, maybe this kid can’t see.”

Sure enough a trip to the eye doctor proved the need for glasses.  They arrived two days ago.  When we walked out of the office and into the world, my heart broke.  Middle’s face lit up.  He slid his glasses down his nose and popped them back up–a huge grin lighting his face.

He could see.

His eyes are fairly bad, but until baseball, we didn’t have a clue that he was struggling.  He didn’t squint.  He never complained.  He lived a normal life.

But his normal was fuzzy and blurry and had quirky depth perception.  And nobody knew.  Not even he.  It hurts my heart to think of what he thought was normal. 

Writers, we’re guilty of this ourselves.  When we start out, we know nothing about the business.  Our vision is fuzzy and blurry and has quirky depth perception.  We have no freakin’ idea what the real world of writing is all about. 

Across the board, we just don’t understand that we truly cannot see.

Writing solo or hiding in the proverbial writer’s closet only enforces our skewed vision.  We have no way to gauge our perception from reality.  And this, my friends, is why I think it’s so important to step out of the closet and join a writing community.

Personally, it doesn’t matter to me which community you join as long as you feel comfortable within it and begin to participate.  I will, however, plug Agent QueryConnect as being THE TOP WRITING COMMUNITY on the net.  So does Writer’s Digest.  In their annual throw-down, Agent Query was listed as #7 for overall writing sites.  Pretty impressive, in my book.

Yet even more impressive is the quality of the community itself. 

Before joining AQ, I was a closet writer.  I had yet to wear my new frames.  Not that I didn’t get the industry.  I was actually fairly industry savvy by this point.  What I had missed in my fuzzy, messed-up world was that there is far more to writing than the basics. 

Writing is an emotional, social and mechanical journey.  There is craft and there is community.  Growth and development must occur across the board for a writer to be fully prepared for the biz. 

I’ve met some great crit partners via AQ.  And even though I’d published in the short market before joining, my writing is much better now than before I joined.  Yet I had no clue that my writing could be so much more.  I did, after all, have credits to my name.  I never dreamed this meant I still had a ton to learn.  I was blind to the quality of my work. 

Being on Agent Query Connect also taught me the value of relationships.  Not industry contacts, but honest to goodness friendships.  It has allowed me to feel comfortable with who I am as a writer and take pride in this fact.  When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a writer. 

A writing community is not another closet, one populated by like-minded individuals.  It’s a lifestyle.  Try on a few writing communities until you find a good fit.  Then participate.  When you do, you’ll be just like Middle.  You’ll slide your glasses down, then pop them back into place.  For the first time, you will honestly see.

I promise you won’t be disappointed.

How about you?  What is your go-to community?  Where did you find them, and how do we?  What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from being a part of a good writing community?

Tell me, what is your writing vision?  Curious minds want to know.

Pay It Forward: perks of being nice

Whenever I buy clothes, I always take them off the hangers and fold them up into a neat little pile with the price tag on top.  I’ve never been a checker (or a chess piece, for that matter), but this process does two things: it gets me out of line faster and I think it helps the frazzled workers become a tad bit less frazzled.  At least while they scan my items.

The other day, Dear Daughter and I bought some clothes–okay, it was a shopping spree.  I don’t generally buy anything for myself because I despise shopping, but on this particular day, DD and I splurged on 23 items.  Yep.  twenty-three hangers, twenty-three price tags and seven of those annoying little you-can’t-steal-clothes tags that have to be surgically removed.

I folded and stacked.  At the end, the check out lady asked if I would like to use my Store Card.  Nope.  Don’t have one.  Want one?  You can save 20% today.  Nope.  DH has one.  He’s in the car and his card is in the kitchen drawer an hour away.

Nice Check Out Lady was so thankful for my help, she swiped me the twenty percent anyways.  I saved $55.00 just for folding clothes while I waited in line.

Pay it forward. 

Writing works that way too.  An act of kindness often begets good will.  In the end, everyone can benefit.

Over on Agent Query Connect, I’ve been blessed enough to read and be read.  Critique and be critiqued.  Support and be supported.  Whenever I get the opportunity to lend a fellow scribe a hand, I do.  Occasionally time and real life get in the way, but often, I’m able to give a little bit of what I’ve been given.

How do you pay it forward?