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Last week we heard from Max Detrano about why writing groups are important to him, and now we’ll hear from a couple of my other cronies on how writing groups are a benefit…you know, just in case you’re debating joining, belonging, divorcing or romancing a writing group. I’ve even slipped in a little secret about myself and Dorothy Rice. Sorry Dorothy, it was bound to come out sooner or later.
From my very talented Romanian friend and writing colleague, Roxana Arama;
1. I’ve been going to Louisa’s Writing Practice since June 2010. Since then, I’ve filled a dozen composition books and finished the first draft of a novel I started soon after I joined the group. I’ve made friends and have grown to belong to a community of supportive writers who opened my eyes to new ideas and opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Compared to the times I wrote alone, these almost three years have been busy for me – much like college.
2. The timed writing we use at Louisa’s is time set aside, when ritual turns off the internal editor and allows insights to flow. I crave the feedback – always constructive – from more experience writers. I love to listen to other people’s writing out of context, because it’s both fascinating and it injects randomness into my thinking about my own work. In my short essay “4 Reasons to Join a Writing Practice Group” written in August 2012 for Bob and Jack’s Writing Blog, I explained in more detail why the format pioneered by Natalie Goldberg changes the way I write for the better.
BIO: Roxana Arama was born in Romania and lives in Seattle, WA. She has an MFA in Creative Writing. She’s working on an alternate history novel set more than two thousand years ago in a little-known part of Eastern Europe. Her blog, Rewriting History, is at www.roxanaarama.com
From Dorothy Rice in Sacramento who I got to know when she came to Seattle for an 8-week Robert Ray workshop at Hugo House. We became fast friends and she ended up staying out our house on Wednesday nights before her early flight home on Thursdays. We ended our thought-provoking, intellectual days as novelists by drinking wine and watching American Idol. I know, I probably should not say that out loud. My husband said we were like two teenagers. Ha! So much for our secret, never tell anybody we do this, tv watching, instead of working on our novels. Anyway, Dorothy is in a Sacramento writing group with Jack and Bob’s friend Frank Araujo and my niece, Sara Will. How’s that for a small world. Anyway, from Dorothy who is writing a novel based on her artist father, Joseph Flavius Rice.
My writers groups give me the extra impetus I sometimes need to generate new work. It is one thing to disappoint myself, and another to feel I am letting down those who believe in me as a writer. We come to the coffee shop table with no motivation other than mutual support and improvement (a good latte helps too). What each brings is distinct and personal. It is an honor to be both trusted and supported. What we primarily do is not the Goldberg/Remick/Ray method of writing practice. We share scenes. We read them aloud (or sometimes review in advance) and provide suggestions, reactions, whatever feels helpful in that moment. There is weekly motivation to always have a new scene (story, vignette, something) to bring to group.
I typically do writing practice on my own, in the wee hours of the morning.
Bio – Dorothy Rice lives in Sacramento, CA, with the youngest of her five children, her patient husband, and many pets. Recently retired from a thirty-five year career with the California EPA, she is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at UC Riverside, Palm Desert, and working on a novel, inspired by her father’s surrealistic paintings from the 1960’s. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The American River Review, Susurrus, Whistling Fire, and Big Pulp.
Now, writing groups are not for everyone, not at all, but some of us benefit greatly from belonging to one, for whatever reason. If you need to find a group check out your local writing organizations, local library, local coffee shops, or on-line where there are a gazzillion groups. Be careful online when sharing your own work, but otherwise get out there, learn and enjoy.
Just a few finding a group resources;
If you know of any great writers group resources or have a good writer’s group experience, please share with us. Thank you for reading.
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