Ever since I began writing, I wished for a local writers group. The only ones I’d found were in Virginia Beach, maybe half an hour from our flat during off-rush-hour traffic. Not all that bad, you might think. But if I was going to take a few hours away from my keyboard, I didn’t want one of them to be spent in my car. I’d travelled to the beach a couple of times for a class or a Show-and-Grow reading opportunity through Hampton Roads Writers, but I really pined for a closer, more convenient Norfolk group.
A year or two ago, I took a fiction class at The Muse Writers’ Center and while there, a classmate told me about her writer’s group that met right there at The Muse. I expressed interest, and she promised to ask if they were open to another member. I waited a while, and finally got added to their e-mail list. I can’t tell you how excited I was, except…
…they disbanded about that same time. I never got the chance to meet with them.
Fast forward to last summer, another class at The Muse. There I met another classmate who did not mention a group, but we did hit it off. We e-mailed back and forth a few times. I played beta-reader for one of his short stories. He returned the favor for one of mine. All the while, we chatted about how fine it would be to have that elusive Norfolk writers’ group, especially one focused on science fiction/fantasy/horror, the whole Spec Fic thing (though I’m not sure what the definitive description of that genre might be; depends on who you ask, and when, as to what it is).
A month or so ago, he messaged me on Facebook to see if I was still interested. Of course I am. He ran a couple of ideas past me for feedback, then got permission from The Muse to meet in their space and posted an invitation on their Facebook page.
Apparently he and I are not the only ones looking for a Norfolk group. He got a number of positive responses, and we set up our first meeting based on the date and time available to the largest number of people.
I must say I was very encouraged by our first meeting. Nine people showed up (we expected eleven), each of whom provided eager feedback. John (our administrator and organizer) had prepared some notes and suggestions for what we might bring to or expect to take away from this group. He’d done his homework and promised to put all the notes on a Facebook page for our group, where we can all refer back to find or suggest resources.
So we’re off to a good start.
It’s encouraging to find a group of like-minded folk to learn from and to share with, people who understand the genre and its tropes and glories, who get as excited as I do about such geeky stuff. They are all in the same boat as me when it comes to making word counts and deadlines, finding agents while avoiding the scam artists, and making their work the very best it can be even when sometimes all we really want to do is trash the whole darn thing and just start over. At one point, I commented that it was going to be awesome to have others to talk to who would know whereof I speak, and that most of my “normal” friends either got tired of hearing me go on and on about my writing (isn’t that novel published yet?) or would give me these blank stares that told me they were composing a grocery list in their heads while I rambled. One of the group members stopped me and said, “Wait, you have normal friends???”
See? Writers know.
So if you’d love to have a writer’s support group but despair of ever finding one, don’t. They are out there. New ones are forming every day. Join the Facebook or other social media pages for your town’s writing center(s) and watch their sites for announcements. And don’t forget to support your local centers; they are there to serve you, but they depend on paying students and/or donors/members for their operating funds.
As for me, I’m sending a great big THANK YOU to John, our organizer, and to Michael at The Muse. I’ve waited a long time for this. I can’t wait to get started.