We’ve all heard about writing and the hard work that goes into it. When you have a story you love you’re expected to give yourself over to the project… one of the biggest commitments you can make. It’s like learning a new instrument, or trying to pick up a language, your story can come out good the first time (which is a rarity) but even then it’s going to take work to lift that story to a place where others are going to agree with you and enjoy your labor of love alongside you.
I myself have been working on my novel for going on three years now. It keeps getting better and better and this is largely thanks to my novel writing group Northern California Novelists (NCN). It’s a fucking fantastic group comprised of 6-7 members at any given time. The core members, as I’ve known them are as follows:
Tim: A man who has a raging penchant for gore and action. Every now and then he will offer an amendment that seems so natural to your world you’d be a fool not to add it.
Ian: A man who can get lost in his own richly layered worlds, sometimes for months, before he picks up the plot again. Which is actually fantastic because he will always point out the areas where your story could do to dwell on your world a bit more.
Brittany: The Queen of the opening paragraph, and lyrical madman to the max! Her prose is second to none.
Molly: Story architect. From start to finish she seems to know where her major scenes and images will occur, and when we reach them her brilliance shines.
John: A man who, without ever mapping out the movement of his novels in any way, can produce a fucking magical web of storytelling every damn time.
Me: A dude who writes… deal with it.
Liz: Our newest member who seems to be a cross between the Coen brother’s and Stephen King!
A writing group has been essential for me. There are many lessons I’ve had to learn. Don’t play to your strengths, challenge yourself with every chapter. Offer meaningful critique, don’t just compliment. Put the good shit on stage, why the fuck are we writing if someone’s just going to hear about it. Don’t take every damn piece of advice offered by the group because at some point you’re going to have to steer the ship. etc. And I seem to take something away with every meeting.
I’ve taken the creative writing classes, and I’ve been to a few writing conferences, and while those have been valuable experiences, NCN is what keeps me coming back. For me it is the right mixture of accountability and gratification that I need to take the grueling out of this commitment called novel writing. But to each his or her own.
Thank you for reading.