There is an App called Meetup that helps you find people with similar interests in your area. On the advice of my neighbor, I joined a group called the Panhandle Writers Group and have attended twice. The group is comprised of people of various ages and backgrounds who come and go depending on their schedule and writing projects. All I can say is, “Wow!” The talent is beyond belief, stories cover subjects similar to those of Robin Cook and Tolkien as well as story lines about war, psychology, growing up and some excellent poetry. Many people in the group are published authors . I may be the only person writing a novel for the first time.
Everyone may bring copies of their work to be read aloud for critique but people can come in simply to exchange ideas and give advice. The critiques I’ve received on my book in only two sessions have been better than an expensive college writing class. A dozen people heard my story and they picked up grammar, context, and content inconsistencies that I had missed. Even the best writers in the room are critiqued, not just me. But as I listened to other’s chapters I felt like a child sitting in the adult section of the library. Now I know why people come every week, to hear the next chapter of other’s stories. What happens next?
Between the first and second session I became obsessed with my book, spending a crazy amount of time editing. Every day I’d wake up and think of a possible twist, especially to the ending. At the first session I brought a scene toward the end of my book. But the group wanted me to start at the beginning, the first chapter. I hate beginnings, my weakness. You have to introduce the characters, location and set up the plot. So of course, I wrote and rewrote too much in the beginning and the group made suggestions for me to pare down the chapter, yet introduce more action. Dean Koontz, I’m not. I’ll settle for emulating Danielle steel or Nicholas Sparks, though. I left the second session thinking there is no way I’ll ever publish a book. The next morning after breakfast a new twist came to mind, based on the group’s suggestions. Phew. My writing obsession is full blown again.
In the course of my writing I’ve had to do research on several musicians. One of particular interest is Johnny Cash. My character sings several of his songs but other than a couple I’d never listened much to Cash. I did a You Tube search and discovered the song, Hurt. If you need a good cry listen to that sad song over and over. From there I researched the story behind the song. Now I want to go to the library and get books about Johnny Cash. Sure, I can get the movie but I’d rather read his biography. If you have suggestions for the best books written about him, please let me know.
After listening to Johnny Cash’ music I found some Elvis Presley songs that are pertinent to my book. That search led me to Patsy Cline’s song, ‘Crazy’. Who knew that while researching a story I’d segue to the lives of icons in the music industry.
Where else will this book writing obsession take me?
By the way, I have a secret Facebook group where from time to time I’ll post chapters from my book. I may or may not include that version of the chapter but it will give readers a chance to critique my writing. Suggestions will be appreciated.