I believe you must bring your whole self to the table if you want to thrive in today’s crazy world; your personality, your sense of humor, and most importantly, your heart. All of these elements brought me to start The Writer's Lounge.
May 7, 2021
Fiction was my first love. I loved the way Stephen Crane described Civil War scenes in
“The Red Badge of Courage,” so clearly even though he wasn’t there. It was a psychological depiction of a young man’s fear of dying in battle. Crane so eloquently captured this young man’s fear of cowardice, but in the end, he conquered it, and he felt like a hero.
I love any author who masters the use of imagery. One of my favorite hobbies is oil painting. A skilled author can paint a scene with words. This is the way I like to write. I want to put the reader into the scene. I want him or her to experience the scene as if they were right there. I want to capture the emotion of conflict by showing, and not telling. Who doesn't want a great escape, right? What's your opinion?
I'd love to hear from you guys. Have a great day!
How to Overcome Loneliness...as a Writer
Not long ago I asked an online group of writers if they were lonely. I got over three hundred responses. Eighty percent of them said that they sometimes felt lonely. Some people said they did not get lonely because the characters in their stories occupied space in their heads. I knew what they meant because characters can sometimes have a life of their own.
But for many of the respondents, loneliness is a real issue. I know it can be for me. Writing is a solitary act. As I write this post, I am in a library because I rarely enjoy writing at home, so working at the library is less isolating.
So how can a writer write without feeling lonely?
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Find Your Tribe in Writer's Groups
Some writers find companionship in writer's groups. There are hundreds of writer's groups to choose from. I have been a part of three separate groups. The formats were set up where everyone took turns reading their stories. When it was my turn to read, the reactions to my work were usually mixed. There always seemed to be a nick-picker in the group. You know the type that questions every inconsequential detail from past tense to present tense who needs to know why street A does not cross street B at the correct spot (as if a reader from the far east would know any better).
It is not as if I expected them to appreciate my literary genius (just kidding). I wanted more input as to the story itself. Was it a good plot? Were the characters believable? What about the pacing? Was it too slow or just right?
It was good to have some feedback, but sometimes the experience was not so much fun. I once wrote a crime story and read it to the group. One lady hated it and called and called it "dark." I found out later that she only liked romance novels. The story had a protagonist that was deeply flawed with emotional issues, and some people found him troubling. She said that she did not believe that anyone could be that unstable. She said he was "crazy."
The groups that I participated in were comprised of people who wrote in many different genres, so it was inevitable that some people would have difficulty relating to writing outside their niche. It dawned on me that this group of people was such a mixed bag of writers that it was impossible to get any kind of consensus as to the greatness of my work. All kidding aside, if you can find a group that is specific to your niche, that would be a good choice.
So why join a writer's group? Why not just write alone and not be bothered with the opinions of others? In groups, there are newbies and established writers. Each can add value to the writing experience. Newbies can offer feedback and a fresh ear just as a new reader of your work can. Established writers can offer mentorship and guidance to aspiring writers.
Human beings are social creatures. We are all tribal. We need the interaction and support of other people. I've heard that the hardest form of incarceration in prison is solitary confinement. People need people. Check with your local library for a writer's group near you.
Find Your Tribe in Book Clubs
The New York Times reports an estimated 5 million Americans belong to a book club (JStor Daily- Pamela Burger, “Women’s Groups and the Rise of the Book Club” August 12, 2015).
I like book clubs because it is an opportunity to discuss my latest reads with fellow readers. I enjoy hearing other people’s opinions about the current selection. My opinion of the protagonist may be different from other people’s. What I think is a delightful story may be terrible to someone else, and that is okay.
I did have one negative experience in a book club that in retrospect was funny, but at the time I did not think it was appropriate. The group was discussing a novel by Agatha Christie. We were at a library in the back room seated in a semi-circle. The group took turns discussing their opinions on the characters and the plot. I thought it was an interesting discussion and I was enjoying myself. The only problem was that I had been sick with the flu all that week and I wasn’t able to finish reading the book. When it was my turn to give my opinion, I just took a pass.
Apparently, one young lady in the group picked up on the fact that I hadn’t read the book. When it was her turn to share her opinion, she looked at me and said, “apparently this gentleman didn’t read the book.” I stared at her in disbelief, astounded and perplexed that a perfect stranger would feel it necessary to “out” me the way she did. Fortunately for me, no one else seemed to notice my embarrassing situation.
I laugh today, thinking back on that situation, but it wasn’t funny at the time.
It’s best not to take anything personal that someone says in a book club. Everyone has their own opinion about a story. That’s what makes it interesting. Check with your local library to see if they offer a book club.
Find Your Tribe at Writer's Conferences
Many writers like to attend writer’s conferences. These are places where writers can meet editors, literary agents, and publishers. They can make some valuable connections and learn about the craft of writing. This is a list of some of the upcoming writers' conferences (I am not affiliated with any of the websites or conferences):
newyorkpitchconference.com 3/10/22-3/13/22 (Zoom), 3/17/22-3/20/22
New York Pitch Conference Professionals are Looking for Marketable Commercial and Literary Stories and Novels in the Genre Categories of Serious and Light Women's Fiction, Suspense Women's Fiction, Mystery, Crime, Thrillers, Futuristic Thrillers, YA and Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, Horror, General Suspense, Historical, Memoir, Narrative Non-Fiction, General and Upmarket. Select Professionals are Scouting for potential TV and Film projects as well.
"Do you want the chance to earn a contract directly with a publishing acquisitions editor or with a literary agent who will represent you to publishers?
Do you want editors and agents to tell you what you’re doing wrong and doing right in your manuscript, synopsis, and query letter?
Would you like to discuss your writing project with editors and agents to see if there’s any interest in the marketplace?
Do you want to learn more about the publishing industry and the business and craft of writing?
Do you want to build your network of industry professionals and writing colleagues?
If you answer, “Yes,” to any or all these questions, then the Atlanta Writers Club (AWC) has designed a conference for you!"
WHAT IS IT?
"This is a special two-day online 'How to Get Published' writing workshop on June 10-11, 2022. In other words, it’s two days full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more."
Find Your Tribe on Social Media
There are Facebook groups where writers share experiences with writing their stories. Sometimes they need to discuss the development of characters themselves. They also discuss issues with publishers and agents. They can connect with like-minded people like themselves who can provide feedback for their work.
Instagram is a place where writers can announce book signings, conferences and participate in discussions about the writing craft and other matters that concern writers.
Twitter is a good place to build a following and interact with readers.
So stay connected to the tribe out there and don't isolate. Until next time...Norman.