Midnight Musings: Paying It Forward

by Willa Blair

We’ve come from different walks of life. Different cities and states. Different schools. Different experiences. But somehow, we’ve all wound up here together, with one important thing in common.

We’re writers.

Pre-published, published, multi-published, fiction of all varieties, non-fiction, too. We’ve had one goal in mind, some of us for most of our lives: to become a published author.

Along the way, there may have been parents who read to us, teachers who helped us perfect language skills, and librarians who guided us to the stack of books we read under the covers with a flashlight long after lights-out. We found authors whose books we loved, even a few books we wished we’d written, and we thought, I want to do that, to be that.  An author.

More recently, there have been writers groups like this one, critique partners, online organizations and chapters, workshops, classes, hundreds of ways to hone our craft and learn from each other.

We’re writers. We’re a society of writers. And like any society, there are those who are further along on the path we tread. They’re the ones we emulated and learned from. Then there are those who follow behind, still gaining experience. We may still feel like wet-behind-the-ears beginners, but to those following us, we’re the sages, the wise ones who’ve been there, done that, and have stories to tell.

The society of writers, or in modern parlance, the network, sustains us in ways we take for granted. Few of us get here alone. And once here, none of us remain alone. Even as we sit solitary in front of our computer screens, we connect with each other through social networking sites, blogs, emails, even phone calls. When we meet face-to-face, we overstay the allotted time because we have so much to share and to learn.

And like the ones who taught us, we pay it forward. We write, we meet, we teach each other. We share our hard-won wisdom, great and small, about how to write, to be a writer, and to prosper in this business.

“Pay it forward” has become a cliché, but it’s a good one. It’s what we do. What others have done for us.  It’s a large part of how we got here and how we stay here.  Supporting each other with our wisdom.

So what can we do to pay it forward?

Here are a few questions for you to answer – either here in comments or just to yourself.

How do you pay it forward?

What would you recommend for others who want to be more active in our society of writers?

What’s the next thing you’re going to DO?

Find me a www.willablair.com.

August 18 Meeting for San Antonio Romance Authors

Ever wonder about Nationals and what’s new in publishing? August’s
meeting will cover that and more. SARAs fresh from 2012 Nationals in
California will be at Parnam Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak from
10am-12:30. August 18th
they’ll give you their impression of the
conference and what they’ve discovered.

 

After their presentation we’ll
have time for discussion plus an opportunity to work on our latest
writing projects. So bring those works in progress! Need to pick
someone’s brain? We can do that too!

Hope to see you there!

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My Fingers Are in My Ears for a Reason

by Marilyn Hudson Tucker

I like writers’ groups. Perhaps I should say I love them, since I am a member of three critique groups. They are all invaluable, but in different ways.

The first time I had my work read at a writers’ critique group, I assumed that everyone would say my chapter was fine just as it was. Perhaps even perfect. “Go, thou, and seek publication immediately.” That sort of thing.

Not so. They told me exactly what was wrong with it and what I could do to improve it.  I won’t say I left with my tail between my legs, but I definitely no longer had my nose in the air. At least they laughed in the right places. Since humor is my passion, I knew I was on the right track.

I persevered, and my writing slowly improved with each new session. Even when my work did not make it into the queue to be presented during that session, I learned by listening to the critiques of others’ works.

Over the years, I have learned that some suggestions must be ignored.

Sometimes, the advice given is simply wrong. One person said I should make my dialogue tags “consistent,” with all of them either at the beginning or in the middle or even at the end of (after) the quotations. The person wrote that advice but did not say it aloud, so I didn’t even have a chance to discuss the comment.

Often, a person will read something on the Internet and decide it is always true. One person in my group insists that every agent or publisher will throw the prologue away and refuse to read it. Not so. I heard a famous agent say he loves prologues. I have witnesses. He even named and explained all the various uses for prologues. In fact, on my iPad I have several bestselling novels that begin with prologues. One even has a “prelude.” Be careful about following suggestions willy-nilly.

Recently, a friend suggested that I have my main character do something that would be quite hilarious. I seriously considered including it until I realized that she would never do what was suggested. Basically, the scene involved my main character wearing borrowed stripper clothes to go to her sister’s law firm after being locked out of her own apartment.

I love to make people laugh, and I truly wanted to use the scene, but deep down I could not make my character do it. She simply refused. I asked a good friend about whether I should follow that suggestion, and he gave me excellent advice.

“Trust yourself,” he said.

It is perhaps the best advice I’ve ever listened to.

Find more humorous articles on my website: MarilynHudsonTucker.com

Critique This!

by Patricia Walters-Fischer

One of the best things about being in a writer’s group is the critique group. Every two weeks, we have the opportunity to send in fifteen pages and get it shredded by our colleagues so we can continue to improve, grow, and learn.

I don’t know about any of you, but I love critique weeks. I’m always grateful for the input, the suggestions and even the “I didn’t like it” critique.

This week, I got one such review. In fact, I received “I really didn’t like this.” Not only did she not like my story, she didn’t like the heroine at all and she felt the supporting character sounded preachy.

Along with my critique, my amazing fellow writer said, “I’m so sorry. I know all the words we write are personal.”

The beauty of having so many genres in romance writing is there will be times when someone writes something that you simply don’t like and it’s fine. I lost no sleep over the critique, nor did I get upset.

Immediately writing her back, I told her I appreciated her honesty and she had some very valid points. Will I change my story? A bit, but overall, the conflict she doesn’t like is what drives my story.

This morning at 1:43, she’d responded, telling me she had actually been unable to rest because of what she’d written to me. I’m glad I wrote her right back. I would hate to think she’d actually lost sleep over doing what I asked of her.

When we all enter our “babies” in critique sessions, we all know we’re putting them on the block. Sometimes we’ll come away with glowing reports and others, well, it won’t be pretty, but it’s not personal.

Our chapter is unique in that we all seem to want everyone to succeed. I’ve known of many writers groups that don’t help each other one bit and hope for no one else to be published or successful. All I feel is love and hope when I get together with all of you.

I know is this person gave me an honest critique. She spent her time going over it with the intension of helping me improve… and she didn’t even like it.

Regardless of what I think she should have seen in my work, it doesn’t matter. She gave me something to think about, things to fix, and lines to improve.

That’s a perfect critique.

Dues are Due

Attention SARAs: It’s time to pay your dues for the 2012-13 program year! So far only 9 people have paid. This means that 20 members have not renewed. Surely you don’t want to miss out on the great year ahead!

There are three payment options:
1) Bring a check for $35 to the meeting this Saturday (7/21) at Parman Library;
2) Mail a check for $35 to SARA, PO Box 160818, San Antonio, TX 78280;
3) Send a payment of $37 to PayPal, payment going to sanantonioromanceauthors@yahoo.com (the extra $2 offsets the fee PayPal charges us)

Renew now to keep our chapter strong!

Gail Hart
Treasurer

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