Monday, September 9, 2013

My First Group

            Lately, the hot topic on the blog has been our big twice a month “no name blood thirsty” critiquing group.  It warms my heart to bring my own journey of The Zealot around to this topic as well.  As you may recall from last time, I had, through friends and revision, trimmed my monster from 205,000 words down to a small dinosaur of 180,000 words.  I knew I needed to get it to around 100,000, more or less.  Another words, I needed help.  But who?

            I found myself In the middle of a totally foreign endeavor.  Did I need to go enroll in some classes in a local University to learn what I needed to know?  Would I have to spend thousands of dollars with a professional to get the desired result?  I didn’t have a clue.

            While I pondered the possibilities, I kept playing with the manuscript.  I couldn’t leave it alone anyway.  I had read in the different books on manuscript submission to condense, condense, condense.  They all said, “look at each and every word.  Look at every word as if they were necessary on their own.”  So I did.  The problem was my brain thought every word was needed.  Those clowns who had written those books had never seen MY manuscript.  I kept moving along and was able to trim more.

            Being out in a cab all the time, I listened to the radio all day and at the time, I listened to talk radio.  There was a local personality I listened to each day.  One day he started to promote a gathering of local authors at a downtown bookstore each Saturday morning.  I decided to go.  It turned out to be great.  I kept going.  From this, a group was formed of local hopeful writers, including me.  We would meet for an hour after the authors every Saturday.  The leader of our group turned out to be the current Mayor of Indianapolis.

            For me, this was an incredible breakthrough.  I sat at a table of eight people who were doing what I was doing.  We could all relate to each other and talk about what we were going through.  The group contained a couple school teachers but, unfortunately, we never got into the nuts and bolts of writing.

            I belonged to this group for about a year.  During this time, we would come in each week and talk about what we had been doing the past week on our project.  I would compare it to some sort of writing therapy.  We sat around and looked at each other and talked about writing, but really didn’t TALK about writing.  We never got into the nuts and bolts of writing.  We never brought our work to the group.  We never shared our work with the group.  We just talked about what writing meant to us and how we felt when we wrote.  Very therapeutic, but it didn’t make my manuscript magically go from 180,000 words down to 100,000.

            So, after a year, I felt better about myself for having a large manuscript.  The birds were chirping.  The skies were blue, but I still had a problem.  Logic prevailed.  I figured if I could find this group, there had to be others.  Am I amazing or what?  I fired up my computer for something other than writing a huge manuscript and used that thing that Al Gore invented…the internet.

            After searching and searching and searching for about, oh, maybe 45 seconds, I found the Indiana Writers Center.  A year’s time of building up self-esteem and 45 seconds to tear it down by finding out there was somewhere else out there all along.  The website looked very professional, with all sorts of writing classes.  I found one that looked extremely interesting, so I signed up for it.  The website did not mention any groups, so I kept going to the group downtown .  I really looked forward to this class, taught by a guy by the name of David Hassler.  Hopefully I would get something out of it that would help me with my behemoth and perhaps lead to other classes.  I’ll let you know…

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