Writing Groups: Yea or Nay?

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Over ten years ago I gave a stab at my first creative writing endeavor, a novel. Yes, a novel. Not a more realistic short story, flash fiction, or a letter to the editor for a rookie writer. But at the time, I didn’t know any better. However, I did know enough that I needed advice on how to get my novel edited. That’s how I found the Kansas City Writers Group (KCWG) led by Mary-Lane Kamberg and Deborah Shouse.

However, the thought of having my work read out loud to a group petrified me. I never turned in a selection of my novel. My first writing creation ended up in box in my basement storage room.

Eight years later, the writing but hit me again, and I wrote another novel. I vowed to give the KCWG another try and, more importantly, have my writing critiqued. When Mary-Lane read my selection, I had to quell the urge to vomit. I was so worried how the group would receive my writing. Much to my relief, I didn’t vomit, and made it through the critique. In fact, everyone was so positive in their comments, and offered suggestions to improve my story–much of which I used to rework my novel.

Now, for each session, I turn in the maximum amount of pieces to share. Not only selections from my novel, but flash fiction and short pieces as well. My writing wallflower days are banished. With each critique, I’ve learned so much about the writing process, and found my voice.

In addition to writing critiques, the group shares market news, upcoming writing conferences, and contests. All of which honed my writing skills. I’ve attended a few conferences, and entered many writing contests—several of which I won. I’ve written stories for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, where I work. In April, a story of mine will be published in Evolving magazine.

Most important, I learned from KCWG that writing is a journey–enjoy each step along the way rather than rush to be published. In fact, it was through KCWG that I learned about Whispering Prairie Press. I never would have dreamed that I would be on their board, let alone Vice President this year.

It has been heartwarming to find kindred writing spirits. I highly recommend to anyone who has the dream of writing, to join a local writers group. The KCWG spring semester begins on March 15, 2018, and runs for ten weeks. To register, just show up. Cost is $65, which you pay at the first class. Classes meet at Country Club Christian Church, 6101 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO. Park in the north lot behind the chapel. Enter the big church through the east door. Take elevator to 3. Group meets in the Solarium. 

 Send your double-spaced (except for poetry), 12-point Times New Roman manuscripts for the first class to: Mary-Lane Kamberg, 2128 E. 144th St.  Olathe, KS 66062-2355

If you’re still wondering if you’re a writer, read a selection from Mary-Lane’s Are You a Writer? 

Are You a Writer?

by Mary-Lane Kamberg

Are you just embarking on the writer’s journey and feel reluctant to call yourself a “real” writer? Don’t be intimidated to declare yourself a member of the tribe. Take heart, fellow traveler. Check off the items that apply to you on following list. The more you check off, the better creds you have. However, even if you check only the last one, you’re in. You are a writer.

You might be a writer if:

  • You find a grammatical error in a New York Times best seller and think, I can do better than that!
  • You miss your exit on the Interstate because you’re working out the next plot twist for your novel.
  • You hear “last call” at the library.
  • You eavesdrop in a restaurant and think, I’m gonna use that!
  • You thrive on conflict.
  • You think pajamas qualify as “business casual.”
  • You have unread books stacked all over the house.
  • You walk into a plate glass window and think, so that’s what it feels like to get punched in the nose. I’m gonna use that!
  • You meet someone with an unusual name and think, I’m gonna use that!
  • You think of an idea for a poem, story, novel, essay, article or book and think, I’m gonna use that! And you do.

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Barbara Kietzer Roberts.  www.barbarakietzerroberts.wordpress.com

To learn more about Mary-Lane, go to http://www.kansascitywriters.com/

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