Over recent days I have been working hard on editing and rewriting my novel for children. I am going over every word and sentence, making each one earn its place in the finished work. Some words were deleted. Some were added to make the text flow or to add to the meaning.
Yesterday I presented the totally reworked first three chapters to my critique group at university where I am doing my Master of Arts. I thought I almost had these chapters licked, though I did admit I wasn’t entirely happy with the opening chapter. Three of the group had never before read any part of the manuscript, others had read some or all of the earlier drafts. Even after working on the 7th draft, readers still found little things to comment on, and many valuable suggestions for improvement. Is there no end to this process?
That last statement seems very negative. One of the important lessons I have learned during my course and while writing this novel is that I needed to change. I was threatened by the scary prospect of sharing my writing with others. Strange as that idea appears, many writers have this fear. We want our words to be read – but we are often too scared to show them to anyone!
I have learned to welcome my words being read and critiqued by other writers. My precious writing can be scrutinized by others whose eyes are not rose coloured. They can see the good parts and the parts which need improvement, changing or even eliminating. All in a pleasant, constructive way, of course.
Belonging to a writers’ group is an excellent way of improving your writing skills – and your chances of getting published.
Now for something a little different.
I’ve had another poem published, this time in a small collection of poems called a chap book. There’s quite a story to this poem being published.
Every month I attend a poetry writers’ group at the university where I have almost completed my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. Poetry writing has been a love of mine for decades, but it is only now that I’m having some small publication successes. Poetry was a big part of the course and my skills have definitely improved in the last 2 years.
Every month we set a poetry writing challenge for the next meeting. One of the challenges last year was to write a poem on the theme of poverty (the Global Financial Crisis even crept into our little group). Some of the poems were brilliant and deserved a much wider audience than the group. We decided that this was to be the the first compilation published by the group.
I was nominated to be one of the three editors and I also set up the design of the booklet. We called it Shifting Sands. We had a very successful launch at our monthly meeting last Thursday. Normally we might only have about 5-7 members attend. This time we had 14 people present (including 3 new members) despite at least 3 or our regular attendees being away.
This month our theme was New Year’s Resolutions and the standard was extremely high. As a result we are now planning our next publication.