Writing can be a very solitary, lonely pursuit. Even my husband, parents, and son don’t really understand the part of me that’s driven to get the stories out of my head and onto paper. I spent a lot of years going it alone. Eventually I found two local writing groups. Though some of the members were Christian, they weren’t pursuing Christian publishing. I learned a lot, but there’s nothing like bonding with others writing Christian genres.
For nine years, I submitted books, got rejections, entered contests, went to group meetings and conferences, and got rejections. During that time, I asked several published authors for help. All said they didn’t have time. I understood since they had deadlines, families, and jobs. Eventually, I joined a national Christian writers’ organization, found critique partners, and muddled my way through to publication. I told myself that no matter how busy I got, I’d help unpublished authors when I got the chance.
A few years and published books later, a local Christian writers’ group started meeting thirty minutes away from me. Though we meet monthly, I usually only make three to four meetings a year. Though we have around twenty members, I don’t think we’ve ever all made it to the same meeting. They write everything from Christian Historicals to Romantic Suspense and everything in between, but they are my crew.
A lot of published authors no longer go to meetings. I go to be an encouragement and even though I’ve worked with professional editors, I often learn something new at our meetings, and I always come home with new ideas just from being around so much creativity.
When I have time and I know one of them is discouraged or feeling stuck, I offer to critique their work. And at least once a year, I offer to critique a certain number of pages or a chapter for everyone. I also teach at least once a year at our meetings and at our annual retreat if I can make it. And I’m often very impressed with the abilities of my friends. Last year, we celebrated Tara’s first book contract and the release of her debut this year.
Our retreat was a few weeks ago at the Mt. Eagle Christian Center just over an hour from me. The retreat is always from Friday to Sunday afternoon, with a worship service at the end. This year, we celebrated Debbie’s first book contract with a cute cake that captured the theme of her upcoming book. I offered critiques for everyone and ended up doing four. Since I’m the pastor’s wife, I always leave Saturday evening. As a result, I missed the campfire. And I dearly love those.
No, I didn’t get any writing done though we had free time designated for that. No, I didn’t get to make s’mores. And no, I didn’t get any rest. In fact, I came home exhausted. But ideas percolated just from being with my friends and I wrote a lot after I got home. So I guess you can say, part of my writing process is being around other writers. And I think they help me more than I help them.
Now, it’s your turn. What gets your creativity stirring? One winner will receive a copy of Reuniting with the Cowboy, which I just learned will be repackaged with another author’s title in May.