Thursday, 27 March 2014

My writing group - cliques and committees

When I started writing for a living in 2011, I loved the work but felt I needed to improve my social life to make up for being on my own all day. So the following January I joined my local writers group to meet new people and to further my writing career. The website assured me of a friendly welcome and the first meeting lived up to this claim with polite smiles and introductions. But within a few months I was having trouble getting beyond that polite 'hello'. They'd usually rush off to speak to someone else.

By April I'd received a book contract and was really excited. I was bursting to tell people, but the cliquey atmosphere prevailed and I left the April meeting without having told a single soul! I was starting to wonder why I bothered with the group at all. I'd already established that it was unlikely to further my career.

In a last ditch attempt to make friends, I decided to offer my services to the committee, suggesting I could work on the newsletter and deliver a talk on my new book. However the chair wasn't interested. He turned me down flat, saying that the members were only interested in fiction. I was on the verge of giving up, having had only had one meaningful conversation with anyone in the group all year!

However, I decided to give it another chance and joined for a further year. I'm glad I did because just recently, things have begun to turn around. I volunteered to read some work at a manuscript evening and when people heard a little about what I was doing, they started to show interest. Some other new members have now started talking to me, and I've even been asked to do that talk!

So the moral of the story, is to persevere. Perhaps if your writing group is cliquey too, they just need time to get to know you. Offer to help with things and reach out to other new members if you can identify them. As for the committee - I'm thinking about joining it next month at the AGM!

What's your writers group like? Has it helped to further your career? Are they welcoming and friendly?

For an hilarious account of another writer's experience at her local writers' group, click here

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