Friday, 28 February 2014

Support groups for writers

It can be a lonely life when you're a writer. Don't get me wrong, most of us love it, we thrive in our own little worlds.

We meet only those people we want to meet. We see, hear and say only the things we want to and we don't have to talk to anyone we don't fancy talking to.

It's not uncommon for people to complain that the writer in their life is a solitary creature, anti-social for the most part and off in la-la-land for the rest of it.

Although it's not really true that we don't socialise, but speaking for myself, I enjoy my own company and always have.

I think that's why I like the company of animals. My cats will spend hours beside me, or sitting on me, while I write. They're not intrusive, they don't expect scintillating conversation and they don't make demands of me. Ok, that last point's not quite true. They can get very demanding if their dinner time rolls around and I'm still glued to my computer, oblivious to the outside world.

Needless to say, this kind of insular behaviour is difficult for non-writers to understand which, I suppose is why we have access to all manner of writer support groups.

Pick your genre and there's a group for you. Here are just a few of my favourites:

The groups listed here are Australian. My U.S. friends should check out Writer's Digest. Membership to these guys gives you access to tutorials and heaps of other helpful hints and tips.

Friends in the U.K. should have a look at The Alliance of Literary Societies. This is an organisation that offers support and advice to members, and encourages cooperation between writing groups and societies across the United Kingdom.

In these days of electronic media, the world is shrinking. There are terrific advantages to that, least of all is the fact that you don't have to live in a country to be a member of one of its societies.

I've talked before about the value of entering writing competitions. I also love writing conferences, and any writing society will have at various times of the year a number of competitions and perhaps a conference. You could do worse than getting involved.

Some societies don't require that you become a member before entering their competitions or popping along to a conference, but I would suggest it's the polite thing to do, after all these groups function for and on behalf of their members. They don't tend to get funding from anywhere else.

For a long time I was the Vice President of the Society of Women Writers, Vic. Speaking from my experience I can tell you in honesty that committee members of these groups work hard, give up a lot of time and are unpaid.

I'm sure some of the larger societies are run differently but most are not. So...the moral of the story today is that if you are, or you're planning to avail yourself of the offerings of a writing society, sign up and become a member.

That way everyone wins.

Hey!! Speaking of conferences, I wrote last year about my experience at the Romance Writers of Australia 2013 conference held in Fremantle. I lamented the fact that I couldn't attend the 2014 conference, but it turns out I will be available! Yippee!

Perhaps I'll see you there - Sydney 2014!

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