I don’t have a “green thumb”, but I have learned how to keep most of the plants in my back-porch herb garden alive. In fact, last year I branched out (pardon the pun) to growing fruits and vegetable in pots, enjoying fresh strawberries and peppers, even a miniature eggplant. This from someone who was previously unable to keep any houseplant alive.
What changed? I finally reached a point in my life when I was able to devote some time to cooking, and had a strong desire to use fresh herbs and veggies, thus the garden. In a parallel manner, I also found time to devote to one of my first loves- writing.
In 2011, I had settled into my new home, my new town, and began looking for writing groups in the area. I was lucky to find one that more than suited my needs, organized by a published writer, not far from where I lived. I attended the first meeting of the newly formed critique group, and still belong today.
Our group of about 10-15 writers (it fluctuates) has been through a few format changes, but our core purpose is support. We critique as members submit projects, either samples or even full novels for beta reading. We give presentations to the group on craft, style, industry info, etc. We share links, resources, and attend conferences together. We celebrate successes- at our last meeting we toasted a member’s entry into the NYTBSA list (Congrats, Annabel Joseph)! And perhaps more importantly, we help each other cope with the inevitable rejections, endless rewrites and other stumbling blocks writers must face.
I have definitely grown in my writing skills as a result of their influence- this blog itself is proof. Not sure whether I would have launched it if I was on my own. Now I have a full novel in edits and am deep into the first draft of Book One a four book series. Their feedback, encouragement and support have been a major factor in my growth, like sunlight, watering and nutrients have helped my garden to grow.
I have also had the pleasure of watching my fellow writers blossom. Seeing a first draft transformed into a full novel ready for publication is exciting. Taking part in the shaping of the final product by providing opinion and suggestions is an honor. Our group has talented writers in various genres, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Erotica, to name a few. Some of our members have already been published or are very near to being published. So watch out, world!
So excuse me while I go tend to my garden of word-projects. First you plant the seeds (outlining), then you write (watering and feeding), then you prune and weed (editing and revision). With luck and love, you will reap the final harvest- a finished novel, ready to send out to the world.