Peggy, the local librarian phoned me at home. No, I didn’t have overdue books. She had something exciting to tell me. Unbelievably, Cathy Marie Buchanan had dropped into the Bright’s Grove library. She was at The Book Keeper in Sarnia for a two-day book signing for her successful first novel, The Day The Falls Stood Still, and was touring the area.
Peggy had just finished reading my manuscript and mentioned me to the Toronto author. I can’t imagine what possessed her to do that. When she told me that the writer left her phone number for me to call her, I was flabbergasted.
Mildly hyperventilating, I dialled the number hoping I would not be tongue-tied when she answered. I need not have worried. In no time, we were chatting without reservation. Cathy understood the frustration of marketing a novel.
Heeding her advice, I made enquiries to libraries and bookstores in search of a writing group. The person who took my call at The Book Keeper provided me with the phone number of a local prolific writer. Peggy Fletcher was a name I recognized.
During our phone conversation, she introduced the group WIT (Writers in Transition). She asked if I knew Bob McCarthy, a local historian, who had authored several books. She included published authors Norma West Linder and Hope Morritt as regular members and my throat began to close up. Although eager, I was nervous at the thought of joining this talented troupe.
Peggy explained the mandate of the group, stressing that it was a casual gathering of writers, and described the regular members as ranging in age from the very young to the very youthful elderly. Songwriters, poets, and novelists. She encouraged me to attend.
At my first weekly WIT meeting in February 2010, the group’s sincere welcome convinced me that I was moving in the right direction. I had found a passionate community of writers offering support, advice, and camaraderie. They understood my enthusiasm for all things unreal.
Bridling my nervousness, I read the opening chapter of my novel. I could have wept with gratitude. Finally, I had someone to talk to about my writing. I looked from one person to the other around the table as they gave their opinion on my work.
The discussion was lively as they acknowledged my strengths and sensitively called attention to weak areas. Dialogue! you need more dialogue, they all agreed. Constructive criticism and genuine interest in my story gave me hope. I knew from that moment that I would attend every meeting.
When the Eden Mills Writer’s Festival invited one of our members, Debbie Okun Hill, to read her poetry at their event in September, she encouraged me to join her. Browsing the book tables, mingling with other writers, and listening to their spirited readings was an exhilarating experience. I admire all writers who have persevered to see their work in print.
Knowing that my goal is to find a publisher for my novel, my WIT colleagues suggested I introduce short stories to the market as a means of getting recognition. No, I don’t write short stories, I told them. My stories span generations. How could I do that in two or three thousand words? Short stories, they insisted−you must. And, so I did.
I love writing. Marketing the stories is a challenge. It takes me longer to market a story than to write one. I could build an entire village and give birth to twenty-five babies, open an orphanage, and three new churches, in the time it takes me to market one short story.
Peggy Fletcher noted that no one other than writers care about any of these tribulations, nor do they enjoy listening to ideas for new story lines or plots. She’s right. Cathy Marie Buchanan knew the importance of a writer’s group. She knew I would need their support and encouragement, not to mention their writing expertise, to further my quest.
Following my pursuit involved stepping outside my comfort zone−this blog being an example. However, I plan on enjoying this site and I am hoping you will as well. Watch for a new blog each Monday.
I’d love to hear from you. If you are unable to post a comment choosing name/Url from comment profile please forward your comments to my email address listed under comments on the right side of this site.
If you need a laugh, join me next week as I mull over an appropriate way to celebrate a milestone birthday ...The Write Celebration.