by S.J. WhiteThere is probably nothing that we know less about when we start, than serious writing. School gives us the rudiments but not much more. One way of short-cutting a long process is to join a group of writers.
The basis of most groups is the workshop, poetry or prose or sometimes both. Its purpose is, fundamentally, editing. Not just the correction of the occasional typo or grammar error, but suggestions on how the work can be generally improved. Also being a member, gives us the opportunity to try out our poems, our stories, before a group of our peers.
Sometimes workshops are scheduled on specifics: how to write certain kinds of poetry, like Haiku, for instance, or how to generate ideas, how to get published.
Another advantage is that some of its members will be better writers than we are. Some of this is bound to rub off. The old cliché of: ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ is still prevalent. It is easier to get published among writers who are familiar with your work. Many groups publish anthologies from time to time, and sometimes, on a regular basis. You might even run into publishers who are members. All this helps in getting you into the swim.
Many groups have websites, and like this one, even a blog, and frequently publish newsletters. We all have to start somewhere and in my experience, this is one of the best ways I know.
Stan White has published three books of poetry and numerous chapbooks. His poems have been published in the usual literary journals and anthologies. He is retired and lives with his wife in Brantford, Ont.