May 17, 2016

Writers Helping Writers

As I struggle along with my new manuscript, I realize how much writers have to do alone. We create, edit and ponder all by our little lonesomes. Here is where I’d love to have a writing partner. Wouldn’t it be nice to toss ideas off someone, to ask them to read what you’ve written, to get their take on a character or a story. Sometimes just talking through the story is enough without the other person having to read it. Picture1

Years ago I co-authored a book. That turned out to be a disaster. My writing companion couldn’t write. She had ideas but had no writing skills. I ended up having to write the entire book. I vowed never to engage another person to co-write with me. I know there are many writers who have developed wonderful and productive co-writing relationships. I just haven’t found that perfect match.

Actually when I talk about writers helping other writers, I’m not talking about co-creating a book. I’m talking about sharing ideas, reading each other’s works and then helping to shout out your fellow author in your networks. These are things we can do for each other. The trick is finding the right match.

bigstockphoto_Handshake_The_Union_Of_Young__3103410Here are some tips when looking for writers who may help you.

I’ve found some great people working in different genres. The problem is I can’t be a good judge of their work. I don’t read fantasy or science or horror. Even though I might enjoy these people as writers, I’ve failed miserably when reading their work. And I can’t expect them to understand the nuances of my genre.

If you don’t set some clear goals, you or your partner might be disappointed. For example, you may expect your writer partner to read your book and write a review. But, that person doesn’t come through. Maybe that person saw their role as simply to give you constructive feedback, not to embark on reading your entire manuscript.

You can communicate and send portions of your manuscript electronically. These days living in the same town isn’t a prerequisite. Of course, if you do, that’s even better. Meeting face to face, possibly over a cup of coffee is so nice. Helps with the loneliness issue, too.

Make sure you complete your tasks.

 If you hated what your partner wrote, let them know what you didn’t like. We want to help each other, not destroy one another. Do what you’re asked to do, but give constructive feedback.

Shout out their work to your network. You’ll not only garner the thanks from a fellow writer, but your network will appreciate learning of a new book. You’ll win lots of friends.

These are just some of my ideas for finding the right writer who can help you. What are some of your ideas?

 

Florida Writer’s Association Royal Palm Literary Awards–Clock Strikes is a Winner!

About 500 writers convened outside of Orlando Florida to celebrate the Florida Writer’s Conference last Thursday through Sunday. Workshops for new and seasoned writers of novels, screenplays, short fiction, poetry and much more provided needed advice and encouragement. This conference celebrated its fourteenth year and attracted writers from Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, and more.

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During the conference the Royal Palm Literary awards were announced. The finalists sat nervously during the banquet dinner, wondering if they might be a lucky winner. Vigorous judging from anonymous judges considered everything from short fiction, poetry to book length fiction and nonfiction. Award winners walked on the stage to receive a nice plaque and to have their photos taken.

I sat with my colleague, Bernadette Boas. We had no idea which category my book might fall into–mystery, suspense, woman’s fiction or mainstream. With mainstream being the toughest to nail because of the number of books represented in that category. Each finalist appeared on a big screen that scrolled throughout the dinner. When those at our table appeared, we applauded. Finally after an interminable hour wait, the awards ceremony began.

12108227_10206900079272758_7846668035103633609_nWith great surprise and delight, The Clock Strikes Midnight won the first place Royal Palm Literary Award for Mainstream/Literary book length fiction. I stumbled to the stage, somewhat stunned. The photographers snapped photos in every direction.

The tag line for the Florida Writer’s Association is writers helping writers. The beauty of this award is that it represents other writers recognizing the work. Like the Oscars, where others in the industry recognize one another, the FWA does the same. Writers can be very tough on one another. By winning first place in this broad category, I felt humbled.

If you’re a writer and want to experience the support of other writers, check out the Florida Writer’s Association. They are truly writers helping writers.

Why Writers Keep Writing

3d1c5469c19bde22993e8a2d68b4e6c2I’ve often wondered what keeps writers writing. As a reader, I’m grateful that people out there in the world persist in this rather unrewarding activity. I say unrewarding only in the sense of traditional rewards, e.g., money, fame. Most of what writers get instead is criticism or armchair hindsight. So why do writer’s write?

I will share some of the reasons I write and some of the reasons I’ve heard other writers say they write.

In other words, we are very verbal people. We express our thoughts, feelings and more through the written word. Some of us also do so through the spoken word, but most writers prefer the written word. Why? There’s little rebuttal. We can get all our thoughts and feelings on the page without controversy (until later, of course).

For some of us, that’s all we’re really good at. Writing is our thing. Our friends and colleagues come to us to help them construct their written idea. “You’re so good at writing, could you look at this letter for me?” or “You write so well, please help me with my proposal.”

Many writers will say they write for themselves, but most of us write for our readers. We want to please readers through our writing. We hear their pleasure through reviews and when they tell us face-to-face. That creates a warm feeling that keeps us at it.

If you want to be a writer, you need to recognize the realities when settling on this career.

Very few writers hit it big and in today’s market even those are not making the money they used to make. And, no, your first novel will probably not be made into a movie. Likely, it will sell a few copies and then disappear into oblivion. If you crave fame and fortune, I’d suggest another career, professional baseball, maybe?

You might think you’ve written the best piece of fiction ever and your Beta readers agree. “Wow, you’ve got something here.” But, you send it out and you learn many people do not like your work. When you put your work out there, you must take the criticism along with the praise. And actually the best work garners both.

In other words, you probably will never recoup the hours in money or recognition. Sometimes, you may never get what you’ve written published.

Thank goodness! Why do you keep writing. Share your reasons with us.