For a few years now a group of Albany, NY writers have been meeting weekly to write and talk. Three years ago we started to get together for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and our community has been steadily growing and developing since then. Now we are a group of friends, a safe space for writers of all ages, genders, beliefs, and genres to work and be appreciated. We have recently realized just how many talented writers there are in the area, yet very few us have had our works published, and so Pub518 was born. Our goal as a company is to help local writers get started in the publishing world and have their works seen by the public.
Our first project, an anthology titled "Dark and Bitter" is a collection of short stories from authors originating in the 518 area code. The title comes from our favorite type of coffee, often enjoyed while writing. Without that dark and bitter brew our company might not exist.
"Dark and Bitter" contains eleven stories from various genres. The anthology is nearing completion, having gone through multiple edits. We are looking for supporters to assist us with set-up and publishing costs. By backing us, you are helping not just a company but a community of artists who just want to share their works on a wider scale.
We look forward to putting your contributions to good use.
It is currently “Back to School” time, something the stores and advertisements won’t let us forget. This means different things for different people. For parents it means no more kids around all day to worry about and find things for them to do. For kids it means going back to friends and learning, and waking up earlier! For teachers it means planning, grading, and an end to relaxation. It can also be a chance for us writers to go “back to school”.
For writers there are two things that come to mind when I say this. The first is more literal. Take a workshop. There are many offered all over the area, and farther. One friend even attended one in Scotland! They are often run by groups of writers such as RWA (the romance writers association). Some are offered online. Teachers can include well known authors, editors, or your fellow local writer. These workshops cover all kinds of things. They can help you work on character, plot, setting, anything you could think of, in a welcoming place. You can listen to others talk about their problems with writing and get help with your own. Workshops are a great place to learn to be a better writer.
The second way to “go back to school” is to work on something on your own. Take a look at your writing. You will know what areas you have trouble with, whether that be a story element, or a type of grammar, or anything. Then practice. Try re-writing a section, or maybe giving a character a backstory. Anything you can find to help yourself.
Just because we are now adults does not mean that we can’t go “back to school.” Take advantage of the daily reminders and make your writing better.
Image attributed to Pixabay.com
In high school, it was not being included that hurt the most. It was alienating, occasionally unbearable, and generally awful. It didn't happen to me all the time, but often enough (maybe to everyone, I can't speak to that), that I can remember that feeling and yes, it does compare to other hurtful things now. Eventually it became a kindness not to be invited to all the parties and events, but other things (that used to not matter) have become dreadful.
When my 10th grade English teacher returned an essay on Copernicus blanketed in red, it might have caused a twinge (I had a *little* pride), but it was not crushing. Now, though, I am atomized by that sense of 'not good enough'. It is devastating to get back a draft copy bleeding in corrections (and suggestions). In fact, it's wretched even knowing my writing doesn't make me proud, even before it goes to a reader! It can be paralyzing - that fear of that humiliation.
Thus, the edit.
This part of the writing processes is considerably more painful that the word dump, which (barring writer's block) most people enjoy. In nearly all circumstances, it is imperative to go through your work many times wearing many hats, with many combs of varied tooth-sizes. Editing will certainly improve your piece, hopefully coalescing your intention, deepening your plot and characters, and excising extraneous verbiage. It will help to snap it together to be exactly what it should be, concise, inspiring, and your best effort.
Editing is hard, lonely, and menial: it is the doxie-fighting role in fighting off the bad wizard. Stick with it, though, for this is what will make your product irresistible!
Image attributed to Pixabay.com
It is hard to know when, but there are times when putting a work in progress to the side is for the best. Best for our career, our sanity, even best for the piece in question. Under the Dome sat, an unfinished idea, in Stephen King's drawer for decades before he felt able to complete it. Not every story is Alice's Adventures (which was conceived in an afternoon, though it then took Carroll two years to pen it, and further editing lasted longer). Some stories are simply better with some fermentation.
Many, even most authors have taken years (some take decades) to finish their work. Angelou, Díaz, and Tolkein all knew that there are real benefits to slow cooking their work: attention to plot and character detail, care of word choice, and nailing the sub-themes and sub-plots. There is also a battle that many authors fight with themselves, fear of releasing their work into the world. This psychological step is hard, and that is when it is time to push yourself forward (sometimes against our own better judgement) and listen to those around you whom you trust. If it takes a long time, but your gut tells you it's worth sticking it out - don't give up on yourself or your work. Most writers know when their work is really ready for release.
If it is taking a very long time and you continue to feel like the work is not improving, progressing, or it simply doesn't contain the depth or detail you want, maybe it would benefit from a period of deep storage. Let it mature in your head, or your file cabinet, and come back to it when things clarify. Once you see the way to improving it to your satisfaction, it is there, waiting for you, like an old friend. Few pieces, in fact, are the worse for extra time.
The oyster takes an irritation that intrudes upon it's solitude, and creates an iridescence of great brilliance and value. The longer we let it mature, the more value and beauty is created. Authors who cultivate their work, allow it to become the most it can be. With patience comes the pearl.