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  • Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Community and being a better writer

The amaryllis above is one of many I grew indoors this winter (to plant outdoors, after they bloom, so I can enjoy them in future years) and the dozens I already have in my garden that are now bursting with color and beauty - so much so that you almost don't notice the weeds that also love spring.

Here comes the analogy - writing a book is like planting and growing a flower from a bulb. Every effort you make contributes to the result, although sometimes it seems to take a very long time to make progress. Amaryllis bulbs can be slow to take off and are affected by light, water, and temperature just like writing is affected by motivation of the writer, the amount of sleep we get, the energy we have, the level of our patience, and our acceptance of or resistance to ideas (our own or those of others). Other writers, and their encouragement, can be like having the best fertilizer on the market. And like bulbs, a book can be enjoyed again and again for years to come. Here's how community - writers - help make your book better.

I'm in a writers' critique group that has been meeting for several years. We're all working on memoires or books about family experiences (my book is historical fiction but based on family letters --- the group kindly let me join even though I am a bit different). We meet monthly at the home of two members and sit around a sturdy round table built by one of our members, Nigel. We're the Writers of the Round Table.

On of our members and I recently wrote about our group for our local newspaper, the Fernandina Beach News Leader. Here is the article they published, with a photo of our amazing group.

We wrote that our group helped us get where we are with our manuscripts. Mine, tentatively titled, Ours for a Little While, is now with an editor for content editing. Once I receive her edits - and I expect lots - I will incorporate them, likely do a lot of rewriting, and then send it back to her for line edits (grammar, punctuation, typos, etc.). Finally, I'll send it off to a publisher after sending out lots of query letters. Everyone in our group is at about the same place. We're all pretty proud of ourselves - and our fellow writers!

When you're in a critique group that's nonjudgmental, trusting, and caring, you get important feedback, encouragement, honest appraisal, and motivation to keep up with everyone else and get it finished. We meet monthly and share some of what we've written or rewritten, and help one another with the hurdles we may be struggling with or share ideas from websites, courses, or experiences. Sitting around a round table, where there is no head of the table, reinforces that we are all equal.

If you're considering writing a memoire, or a book of another genre, I can highly recommend that you find a support group or start one. You'll learn from one another and you're likely to make better progress with the encouragement of others. As Julia and I wrote in the article, "We rejoice in the accomplishments of our members and we each take a little pride in the others' successes because we've had a small hand in every story ... perhaps most important of all is that the momentum of the group keeps each of us on track." I can honestly say that this small group has grown close - we are not just colleagues - we're friends. They've helped me be a better writer.

Have you always thought you might write a book? Now's the time to start. Everyone at our Round Table would encourage you to get started and find some folks to work with who will help you along the way like we've done for one another.

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I always enjoy your blogs with the beautiful photograph and loved your analogy of writing a book in this one.  The Writers of the Round Table does sound like an amazing group.  You should be proud of all the hard work you have put into your book. I look forward to hearing more!



Beautiful flowers and sentiments! There is power when we gather and lift each other up in support of our goals.



I love this! Great writing, great photos, great thoughts!



Your passion for writing is infectious! Thank you and our group for the undying support!

Excellent blog!

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