This is now up on Insideadog. I mean to do an extra post today, dedicated to Remembrance Day. After all, Tolkien was in the Great War and.. stand by.
Let’s face it, writing is lonely. No matter what you do or who you hang out with, in the end, it’s you and the computer. Nobody can write it for you. Well, yes, they can write it with you if you’re doing a collaborated piece of work, but I find the quickest way to lose friends is to write a book with them.
You can have “beta” readers for feedback, though, and this is one reason why people join writers’ groups. On-line you’ll find communities, forums, discussion groups. Some of my Year 9 students have joined a web site called Inkpop, an on-line community where you can choose a cover for your book and have other members read and comment. Anyone can join.
Some on-line groups are for experienced writers, including those who can commit to a story a week, which other members can then critique.
The advantage is that it makes you feel less lonely and you can have access to far more people than when I started writing. Do you sell more stories this way? Sometimes.
I was part of a science fiction and fantasy writers’ group back in the days before email. We wrote a story a month, but actually had to finish the story before the month was over, photocopy it and send it to the other group members by snail mail. A lot harder than now, eh?
Some of us became professionals – not all. I’m one of those who made it, another was Sean McMullen, who has written a lot of books for adults, but, more recently, a Quentaris book and two novels for the YA publisher Ford Street. George Ivanoff, later author of Gamers’ Quest, came to some meetings too.
Did I sell some of the stories I wrote then? Yes. Two won the Mary Grant Bruce Award for children’s literature. One of those, a ghost story set in a library, was published in a library themed anthology. Another, a funny story inspired by a Grimm fairy tale, sold to Family Circle (my first sale). People in my group could be very rude in their comments; the thing was not to take it personally. I must have learned something for my stories to sell.
Bear in mind that if you do join a writers’ group you will have to have a thick skin; at least when I was in a group, I knew the other writers and could make rude gestures back at them if they annoyed me, and have a laugh afterwards. One time I wrote a member into a story as a ghost. On-line, nobody knows you personally or cares if you’re upset or insulted and if you get into an argument about it you learn nothing.
Up to you if you want to have a go. There are plenty of teens doing it; I just spotted an interview with one on Inkpop. So good luck and good writing!
Still casting the Rangers’ Apprentice movie. My choice for Oberjarl Erak is … drum roll! – John Rhys-Davies!