As much as I enjoy the sheer fun of blogging and writing in general, my goals are becoming more ambitious, more professional, with an ultimate desire to make a living from my writing. It’s going to be a lot of work and it’s not always going to be enjoyable, but it also has the potential to be the most fulfilling, personally satisfying endeavor of my career.
But I’m certainly not getting to where I want to be solely through this blog. As much as I enjoy sharing work with my handful of followers, blogging is largely an introspective activity, concerned more with personal expression than meeting the reader’s interests. The likes and comments are helpful, but don’t provide the critical insight required to improve the writer’s craft. The discipline I’ve learned from blogging needs to be supplemented with an active engagement with readers — and in the past couple of months, I’ve begun such an engagement.
Using Meetup, I’ve contacted writer’s groups in my area, and believe I’ve found a group that’s right for me. Cautious to a fault with new relationships, I established my presence over a series of meetings:
- First Meeting — Observation. My goals at the initial gathering were simple: introduce myself, and observe the group’s interactions. I was impressed by their reaction to me, how they were clearly open to my arrival but without the desperate solicitation I find disturbing with some groups. The members also seemed dedicated to improving not only their own work but the work of other members. A good vibration, with no red flags — enough positivism to make me put the following month’s meeting on my calendar.
- Second Meeting — Participation. Five writers submitted around 3000 words each for the following month, and I played the role of helpful critic to the best of my ability. Find something positive about each work, along with an area for improvement; most contributions were strong, and my critiques were received with enthusiasm. Still no red flags; this definitely seems like the right group for me.
- Third Meeting — Contribution. Two weeks from this Saturday, the group will be responding to the opening scene of “The Land Without Mosquitos,” which has appeared previously on this blog. Being one of the few works I’ve actually completed, this story seemed like the best vehicle for obtaining the critical feedback I need to advance my career.
That Saturday represents the next step in what will likely be a long journey, and I’m anxious to see where it takes me.
The above is my contribution to this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group day.