Erin Green Author - blog
It's been a while since I was a member of a writing group, but recently I rejoined. I know that 'rejoined' sounds slightly strange but it's the truth, honest.
I've been a member of several different groups in the area - each one unique. The first group I attended was in a neighbouring town, they were supportive of each other but no of newbies joining their established group. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to join in but sadly, an invisible barrier couldn't be penetrated so I didn't attend after six sessions.
My next group was a brand-new group, its newness was probably sought out specifically due to the aged code within the previous one. Any way, this group had a leader who was hot on admin. Over hot on admin to the point that the formality of the meeting stifled any creativity to the point that people left, in droves. Arguments occurred, bank accounts were closed and the admin was deleted. All I wanted to do was talk about writing, give feedback on writing and possibly encourage others to write! That group partly dissolved, we kept the name and a nuclear core remained but it didn't really survive. The group went down to four members, who'd meet in a local pub once a month. Sadly, if one person was away or ill the whole night was a waste of time. And over time, less and less feedback was given to the point that it wasn't a supportive group for me to attend, so I left. Actually, I left when I asked the folks to read my website to check if it was OK. I didn't read that night because I'd made a request upon their time outside of the group. They didn't read my website, didn't show much interest and I asked myself what was I doing giving up time to attend? Because that's what it comes down to really, we each have just 168 hours per week in which to live our lives. If you're trying to accomplish a goal, such as writing or any other dream, you need to cypher that valuable time away from the rest of your life. And that, isn't easy at the best of times.
I then joined a very well established group, a group which was valued in the local area, varied in genre, known and respected amongst writers in the Midlands. Boy oh boy, talk about in house fighting and silent battles. I used to travel a fair distance to attend so, it was a whole night given up for me. Sadly, over time certain characters dominated with their views, their strops and their resignations to the point that a full blown argument occurred. I wasn't present to witness it, but at the next meeting I instantly knew that something dreadful had occurred! Knife. Cut. Atmosphere. With - arrange as you like, but it was dreadful - I never went back again. I hear on the grapevine that this group has now disbanded which is a shame because it had great potential.
I was a little lost without a writers' group - I've always embraced the idea that 'birds of a feather flock together' and benefit each other by doing so.
Then finally, I took the bull by the horns and joined a city based writing group in Birmingham. What a difference! The group was held at the newly built modern Birmingham Library, which is a joy to behold inside and out. I went for several months and it was great. There was a huge gathering of writers each meeting 20+ people writing all sorts of material short stories, poetry, autobiography plus a wide range of genres - which I never read but still found interesting to listen to and give feedback on. It was fair trek for me but I was loving it. Such is life, the minute you settle something or someone unsettles you so, the library decided it could no longer support our group as the library opening hours were being changed. What's that I hear you say? A brand new library making cut back almost as soon as it opened! Yep, that's what happened, so the group and to move to another venue. As many members went straight to the writers' group from work they brought the start time forward which made it almost impossible for me to continue at the new venue. So, I had to say goodbye.
And, I've stayed homeless without a writing group for four long years. I've missed the exchange of ideas, the feedback given and received by members, the genuine encouragement but most of all I've missed the people. the members who are each striving for their dream of being published, holding their novel/anthology/poem and acknowledging that their hard work paid off. I have genuinely missed being amongst the grass roots of being a writer, and chasing that dream. During those four years, I worked incredibly hard and was generously awarded time and attention from others in the industry - together those elements meant I gained publishing contracts and a literary agent. My dreams came true, I became a published author. And to date, I've had four book published, I'm currently working on number five.
Now 2019 has proved to be a strange year so far, so I thought 'let's do it' and I've returned to the Birmingham Writers' Group in their new venue. It is still going to be a struggle for me to arrive on time, it will always be a huge trek given my location but it's worth it. I attended for the second time last night, I even paid my annual subscription so I'm a fully fledged members again... and, I loved it. I'd forgotten how nice it is to hear other peoples' work, to give encouragement to others and be able to converse with like minded people. I'm hoping that the coming months I will be able to attend when I can and support others.