I finally did it: I joined a writer's group. At least, I joined a group that's called a writer's group. I'm not sure how many people are even in the group, if they actually write or just want to write, and if they know anything at all about writing. When I introduced myself and said I had finished my first novel and was in the midst of my second and querying the first, I got some "ooohs" and "ahhhs" and something a kin to genuflecting. Which did not inspire enthusiasm on my part.
In all fairness, it's an internet group, because try as I might I cannot find any groups in my area. Apparently, no one here writes. Or they are all the likes of John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell and they don't need writer's groups. So all I was left with was to try the internet.
But this group is flexing in size, and I am quite sure I have yet to meet everyone. In the last month, only two people submitted work, one of which was me. At least one person has never written anything and writes with limited English. Only two to three people comment. And very vaguely, although I am thankful for anything.
This all just cements my previous views of writing groups: I don't think they are really for me. I have resisted for a long time. I took lots of writing classes in college. I was always the top writer, the most respected, the most honored, even in the grad level course I took as an undergrad. And this is not to say at all that I was great. It reflects mostly on the poor quality of writing of most of the others. What I learned most in these classes was that there are a lot of people who think they can write that can't.
I may be one of those people who think they can write but can't. Or maybe I am one of those people who can write, and write well, but not good enough. After all, if BookEnds receives 1200 queries a quarter and only signs on one client out of those, you have to be better than just the best in your class. Unless, of course, your class is 1200 students (and I had classes like that... just not writing classes!). But not respecting the abilities of your group members makes it hard to respect their advice - or their praise.
I had a few people I knew who read my last manuscript while it was in progress, but they knew me and liked me, and I could never be certain how honest and straight forward they were. And many, many blogs and writer sites tout the need for participation in a writer group, in a circle of people who aren't invested in you as a friend too much that they can't be honest. I resisted, still. I didn't need no stinking group. I could judge for myself. I could trust my friends.
Until I realized maybe an outside opinion wouldn't be bad after all, and might give me the chance to read some other really good WIPs and get to know other writers in the process like me, or better yet, a step or two ahead of me. I'm always looking for a little experience to draw on if it saves me from looking like a fool.
But now I am a member of a group that, from what I've seen so far, has much less experience than me. And frankly, that is a little scary. Not that I am one to be all taking and no giving, but I don't want to be the one who knows the most, because what I know about the publishing industry could be written on the head of a pin. Okay, maybe a big pin, but a pin nonetheless.
The other writing sample given for critique was so all over the place I had trouble even critiquing it. I sat for three days looking at the it, trying to figure out where to start. And I thought, this is sucking up my own time for writing...
So what about writer's out there? Do you belong to a group? Is it worth it? How did you choose it? What keeps you in it? What do you get out of it? If not, who reads your work?
Most of you whose blogs I follow mention people reading your work. How do you choose? How did you find them? And most of all, if you like them, can I join???