Monday, October 12, 2009

What Women Write

by Joan

I’m a loner. My office is a cocoon, outfitted in a wrap-around desk, favorite paintings and prints, and plantation shutters closed off to the elements. I often have no idea whether it’s a sparkly, sunny day or a dreary rainfest. The only way I know a storm is coming is when my mother-in-law calls to tell me to batten down the plants and patio chairs. I don’t like talking on the phone, the result of three years as a headhunter in the ’80s when I had to make phone calls at night and attend networking gigs. If I’m on the phone too long, the person on the other end will often sense my unease and let me go. I like the solitude of a writer’s life, taking a phrase or sentence, working it into something that not only I love, but also has some meaning to someone else. Which is odd, when you think about it, but a common trait writers share.

But as any writer knows, it’s nice to connect with other writers, to share ideas, work through mistakes, celebrate achievements and, yes, rejection. I joined the Writers’ Guild of Texas, a young organization that has grown to almost 80 members in three years, and became its treasurer. There I met my first critique partner, Kim, and subsequently Pamela. I met Elizabeth at the Lesser North Texas Writers’ Critique group, Pamela and Julie connected online, then we met Susan at a conference. And here we are, our own little writing village.

Today we celebrate our fiftieth post. When we started What Women Write, we knew our styles were all quite different but wanted to find a way to connect with the writing community and share a bit about our writing journeys. We set up a schedule and committed to following it, making small adjustments for when life interfered (flu, day jobs, family emergencies, travel). I’m constantly amazed at the posts my partners have written, the authors we’ve been lucky enough to interview, the response and support from our readers.

Like many writers, when I look back at my manuscripts from a few years ago, I cringe. Reading them makes me want to send apology notes to all those agents I queried with what I thought was the best book I could write. I should also apologize to unsuspecting friends and family members who also read my early drafts and offered unworthy praise. Since then, I have studied writing how-tos and written daily, but my partners have pushed me to become even better. Yes, our styles are different, but each one in her own way has helped me gain perspective of my work, stretched me, provided me with honest feedback, and kept me laughing when I wanted to cry. (Some diligently reading revisions of the same manuscript numerous times!) Next month, the six of us will go on the first of hopefully many writing sojourns together, to a remote cabin far away. Maybe I’m not a loner after all.


  1. I, too, am a loner. My idea of heaven would be to have the house completely to myself for a week. No husband, no children, no ringing phone. The only connection I find I need with the outside world is the internet - without that my cocoon feels more like a tomb!

    I believe most writers are this way, more comfortable with the voices in our head than the voices of people we encounter in our daily lives. Dialogue flows in our manuscripts (we hope) but when we speak to others, they may see how much work it takes to string coherent words together. People who do not write very rarely understand how consuming our stories can be, how hard it is to switch points of view (our heroine's to our own) when the phone rings or the four year old wants a snack.

    I think what makes our little community work is that we respect each other's quirks, celebrate and learn from our differences, and support each other. I hope many other writer/hermits out there are so lucky.

  2. Kim, I never thought of switching POV not only with our characters, but with ourselves. Great point. Next time I have a bad moment, I think I'll blame it on Ace.

  3. Yep, you pegged me, too, Joan! I like my little visits to the real world on occasion, but I'm usually content to stay in my cozy cave. :)

  4. Congratulations on the 50th posting. I'm so glad all of you met and formed this inspiring group. I love your distinct voices and reading aspects of your individual writing journey.


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