By Nichole Giles
It’s been almost three years since I attended my first writer’s conference, where I joined my first writer’s group. At first, even the idea of admitting I wanted to write was overwhelming. But little by little, and bit by bit, I realized these people felt like I did. We had something very important in common.
We all must write.
Some of us write for fun, unconcerned about submitting our work regularly. Others write for growth, constantly submitting to different markets and trying out different genres while they search for their niche. There are even those in our group who write as a form of self-expression, as a way to make some kind of mark in the world. But we all write because we have no choice. Because there are voices in our heads that won’t be silenced until they’ve had their say, and mysteries that keep us awake at night trying to fit the puzzle pieces together until finally, we find the time to transfer them to paper.
No one understands these needs better than another writer. From them, we find the help and support to hone our skills, to strengthen our voice, and to polish our work.
In the three years since I joined, many of the writers in our group have sold articles and short stories to magazines, anthologies, and compilations. Others have even jumped up in the rankings and signed book contracts with publishers.
I know my work has improved over the last three years. Developing good writing habits has helped, but I know a great deal of my progress is due to my association with other people. These people motivate me, they help me see my weaknesses and point out my strengths, but most of all they encourage me.
Right about the time I get discouraged, someone in our group gets a taste of success. Their happiness is contagious as the powdery, inky aroma of a contract wafts throughout the group. We begin to salivate as the smell becomes stronger, and we pay close attention to the other people in the group, wondering who will be the next one to be granted a luscious taste. Then, someone else takes a bite—sometimes a nibble, sometimes a mouthful—and the others work harder and become better until the next person is granted permission to feast.
You see, even though we live in the real world—and consciously we know life doesn’t really work like this—most people have a hidden belief that success works like the chicken pox or the flu. If you hang out with the right person long enough, whatever they have is bound to rub off on you.
In our group, that theory continually proves itself true with one member or another sharing great news about an acceptance or contract. So here I am people! Doing jumping jacks on the table! Throw it at me, because I want to be next!