The Way is Paved at SheWrites
When I moved to Beacon, NY, in the middle of a snow storm, from Denver, Colorado, without any friends (not a single one would follow me), I brought my clarinet, my paints, and a file called "fragments" that were all going to make it into a novel, several poems, and short stories. As I re-invigorated my blog and pumped some badly needed hours into my webpage, I realized I left half my "platform" behind in Denver. My reading buddies, my Denver Post friend, my bookstore support staff who are my family, all miles away. I was already a member of SheWrites, one of the many throngs of joiners after a raving invite from the She Writes Pied Piper, Carleen Brice. I had a window open in a She Writes pane, offhandedly looking for groups to join. Entrenched in my blog, going off on how my cats were depressed logs, eating dry kibble like Doritos, I heard a small "ping." Another "ping" came on through the spanking large snowflakes on my sill. I opened the She Writes window, and there, a chat flashed up and down, pinging opinions about manuscript critique etiquette.
I joined in, not knowing that several chats like this take place daily on She Writes through all different kinds of groups. I commented that genre specific critique could be beneficial. All of the group chimed in: Staci, Abigail, Henya, Tina, Shah, Jayme and Robert. They told me to join the group and I've been posting (or torturing them?) with my stories ever since.
Virtual Writer's Critique Group, created by Jayme Whitfield and Tina Deschamp's moderating, has grown to 49 members. They welcomed me with open arms and now reap the benefits of having carefully read manuscripts, ready to submit. Maybe not the face to face experience, but still a wonderfully supportive and motivating force. We have a set schedule and post our stories for critique according to longer series or "onsie" shorts. Since then, I have joined Meg Waite Clayton's group of Novelists (and Water Cooler Wednesday Chat), Bloggers about Books (Blogging Balls), and Poet Enthusiasts (Poetry Meetups). My email is overcrammed, but I try my best to open at least five a day. I also make a point of keeping my She Writes window open all day while I write or teach. Some practical ways to use She Writes are to hit the tabs up top. Under "Getting Started," there is a list of popular articles. You can get lost in there, but reading one of those every few days or so keeps you plugged in. Also, under "Resources" there are prompts, groups to join, and a list of blogs who take submissions. Perusing the tabs is crucial to using She Writes fully. There are too many great features to cover, one of them being the wonderful option where you can create your own group, anytime. As a She Writer, I have a continually growing platform, prolific manuscripts, and a support group across the globe. Next week, three of us are piling in my car, for a She Writes jaunt and a little literary lunch in Rhinebeck, NY.
At the She Writes meetup for the BEA (Book Expo) in NYC, SheWrites founder, Kamy Wicoff, was amazed to hear how successful of a group to which I belonged. (Wha? I thought she knew how great it was!!!) She wanted me to write a little blurb about my experience, so here it is: Blurb Newsflash - She Writes Rocks! It's not only my blurb to write, though. It's every She Writer, making time in their day, keeping that She Writes window open, clicking on groups, uploading stories while biting nails, gaining weight due to sitting long hours in front of a screen and popping Zebra Cakes (oh, that's only me?), taking kids to LaCrosse, then going back to the screen to chat about plot. I think all the groups on She Writes are successful, because, no matter what, we're connecting the dots, like Steve Jobs endorsed in his graduate speech at Stanford's Reed College. Our job at She Writes (besides our tears staining our keyboards, or is it sweat?) is to stay connected. Whether we're blog hopping for the weekend or meeting locally at a bookstore, restaurant, etc., we are poking dots down in the dust, to connect. When we look back on our days at She Writes, we'll have a whole lot of SheWriters bending over pebbles, using pens to smooth cement, kicking stones into place that slowly add up to our writing success.