Friday, September 9, 2011

Focus Friday: Keeping in Good Company

A Night Like Last Night
It's a little hard to focus after a night like last night (and a week like this week), but I'll try.

After all, that's what Focus Friday is for.

(Hint:  Espresso helps.)

Although I was up far too late and have little speaking voice - I sure do have a lot to talk about.  For starters, I was in the good company of 70,555 people last night.  Together, we cheered for a common goal.  We were focused.  We succeeded (Packers 42; Saints 34).

And this morning, as the espresso kicked in, I had a realization.  I'm quite often in good company.

I'm referring to my writer's groups–local and online.  Though the number of my writer pals isn't as staggering as Lambeau Field at full capacity, the quality of my writing 'company' is amazing (and they've never spilled beer on me).

Upon pondering a few recent milestones and successes in my writing, I'd like to pass on my revelation:  to stay focused as a writer, keep yourself in good company -- the company of other focused writers.  The ones who are passionate and share your interests.

I'm glad to say that I've made it a point to be in good company.

Amidst all the chaos and celebration this week, two of my local writer-pals received some excellent news:  Melissa Gorzelanczyk and Susan Manzke were awarded Grand Prize and Runner-Up of this year's Marsha Dunlap Memorial Scholarship from the SCBWI-WI.  I'm proud of and motivated by their passion and diligence.  My 'good company' inspires me.

I also received my first official rejection this week.  No tears.  Only the words of Pat Schmatz, an author whose revision workshop I attended earlier this year: "Thank you, Highlights, for rejecting my unfinished manuscript."  And on I write.  I appreciate the good company, Pat.

I'm also headed out in six days to a writer's retreat, and between now and then have two opportunities to meet with a close-knit group of local writers.  Three days of good, focused company.  And group help in researching markets and getting pieces submission-ready.

You're starting to get the picture.  Good company = way to keep yourself on track.

Now -- if you're reading this post and feeling a bit glum about not having the same 'company' I have, remember that I began alone, just like most writers.

At first, I joined several critique groups.  Two of them never worked out.  The writers weren't focused, or weren't focused on the same types of writing.  Although I wouldn't say those groups were 'bad' company, the groups didn't offer 'good' company.  I moved on and am glad I did.

People who call themselves writers are a dime a dozen.  Find yourself the ones who LOVE writing, study the craft, and actually write.

Also consider that not all writer company is local.  I belong to an online critique group and have several 'virtual' writer friends.  The ones I stay in contact with most are ones who post regularly.  The writers who are not just chatting about being a writer or the books they've published -- but the writers who actually write in their spare time.

So, find some good company.

Critique Cafe is a great place to start (online).

Locally, sign up for your area's SCBWI chapter or Writer's Union.

There are writers in your city, I guarantee.  If you don't have a group that meets in person, start one.  Scan the bylines of your local magazines and send Facebook invites to a meet-up.  Offer your help to new writers, and accept help from experienced writers.

You'll not only find a path to publication, you'll find fellowship and friendship.  It's an amazing thing.

And so is witnessing a Packers win at Lambeau Field.


Claudine Gueh said...

It's true, Miranda, being in good writing company does make a significant difference. (I, too, try to stay away from the negative chatters so that I won't be distracted or pulled down.) Cheers and coffee and chocolates are very very very important to me. =)

Kelly Hashway said...

Okay, I'm so jealous right now. I'm a Packer fan! I can't believe you were at that game. Okay, I'm pulling myself together now. Congrats on your first rejection. You are definitely in good company. :)

Miranda Paul said...

@Claudine = Yes, definitely staying away from neg. chatter!

@Kelly = I like you even more now, knowing you back The Pack. And thanks for the congrats. I'm celebrating my first rejection, actually!

Kelly Hashway said...

Miranda, I tagged you on my blog. Go check it out because you're it!

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