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While writing there is no one to metaphorically hold my hand, encourage me and help me to improve my work in progress.
From my first draft of a novel or article I try to write to the best of my ability and avoid the many pitfalls which plague authors. By the time I have written several drafts, revised and edited my work I know it inside out, upside down and back to front, and that is the problem. I reach the stage when I no longer see typing errors and other mistakes because I am so familiar with my typescript – faulty punctuation, writing from the author’s point of view instead of the character’s and telling the character’s story instead of showing the character’s actions. No matter how interesting my novel or article is these unprofessional mistakes might result in an agent or publisher rejecting my submission.
Fortunately, there is help available. I belong to Watford Writers, which meets every Monday evening with the exception of Bank Holidays.
On manuscript evenings I read approximately 2,000 words from my work in progress and receive helpful comments. Someone might point out a weak spot in the plot, an awkward phrase or something unnecessary for which I am very grateful. After all, to achieve my goal of having more work published I need to constantly improve my craft.
Apart from manuscript evenings Watford Writers invites guest speakers or guests who conduct workshops. Last year I handed in my non-fiction article titled Baroness Orczy and Her Muse at a workshop. The feedback was invaluable. The article needed to be divided into two. I accepted the advice and used the material to write two articles, the first titled Baroness Orczy and the second titled The Scarlet Pimpernel.
At Watford Writers I heard about Vintage Script, a small press magazine devoted to past times. I submitted Baroness Orczy and the article has been published in the magazine’s first edition.
I’m so busy researching my novels and articles that I rarely venture into other fields. However, Watford Writers holds flash fiction competitions in which I have recently participated. So far, I haven’t won anything but writing something very different to my chosen field challenges me to ‘think outside my box’.
Recently, Watford Writers invited its members to submit a 500 word competition story. The theme is The Blue Door. To enter it I had to dig deep into my imagination to find what I hope is an original plot. My entry is called Paradise Lost and even if it is not placed I will still be pleased to have taken part.
Last week was one of the four social evenings held every year. A member organised a quiz – which dismayed me because I know so little about some subjects – for example sport and pop music.
Somewhat nervous I arrived at Café Cha Cha in Cassiobury Park on the quiz evening. It was a hot with a hint of thunder so we sat outside the café looking out over the beautiful park with drinks and plates of food from the buffet to which we all contributed.
I was pleased when I knew the answers to questions relating to gardening and literature but dismayed by the 25 questions about pop music.
Our group lagged behind but we had a stroke of luck. The organiser did not know that one of the ladies in our group had been a disc jockey in South Africa. We scored 50 out of 50 on that final round and won prizes. Mine was a writing magazine and a very useful computer dictionary.
So, if you can find a constructive writers circle that will welcome you, I suggest you visit it and amongst other things make new friends. If you live in or near Watford, Hertfordshire, do drop in at one of out meetings at 7.30. p.m. on Monday evenings. You will be very welcome,
All the best,
Tangled Love set in Queen Anne’s reign 1702-1714 to be published by Muse It Up on the 27.01.2012 (Previously published as Tangled Hearts.)