By Patty Lovell
I’m blessed with a number of good friends I can turn to for fun, laughter, and support. I love them, but none of them writes. They're not illiterate, mind you. They just hate to write ANYTHING more than 144 characters. When I try to talk to them about my writing life, you'd think I was trying to explain what an Aggie is. If you didn't go to Texas A&M, you don't care. Plus, my ego may do backflips and somersaults when they critique my work telling me, “I love it“ EVERY SINGLE TIME, this doesn't help me become a better writer. And as much as I adore my friends, when they ask me for the hundredth time, “When will it be published?” I feel my Mr. Hyde coming out.
It was suggested I join a writer's group. Great advice for us solitary scribes, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Joining a writer's group that fulfills your needs is like Goldilocks searching for that perfect bed. When I walked into the first meeting for a local organization, I felt as though I was attending a high school reunion, but it wasn't my alma mater. Everyone knew each other “forever” and most of the meeting was spent reminiscing about the good 'ol days, when newspapers ruled and grammar mattered. This group was too relaxed for me.
Not ready to give up, I found another group of writers, and I was elated to see such diversified and eclectic members. I thought I had found my tribe, but soon realized I didn't speak their language. After one member used ansible, terraforming, and cryostatis in the same sentence, I realized most were sci-fi writers. This group was much too focused for me.
I became a tad desperate and joined an online writers group. There were so many sub-groups and topics to choose from that I felt as though I had entered writer’s nirvana. My elation quickly subsided when I attempted to join in on discussions and critiques. I couldn't keep people's names straight and who wrote what, and soon became lost in the thread of postings. Too confusing. (OK, the real reason I quit was because I couldn't settle on an avatar).
I was ready to admit defeat, go back to my Howard Hughes M.O. of writing, until a friend told me about one more writer's group. I walked into the room and it was Deja vu. Everything and everyone felt familiar and comfortable, as though I had attended a previous time with no recollection. I was elated! Like Goldilocks, I didn’t give up and I had found the group that was just right for me.
Patty Lovell writes mystery and mainstream novels, essays, even children's books. She is a former high school English teacher and librarian who also spent over ten years in business and has even had her invention, The Scoop, sold on Quirky.com. As founder of Girls on the Run of Stark County, a national non-profit for young girls that uses a fun, experience-based curriculum that integrates running to enhance confidence and self-esteem, she knows the value of physical activity for health and for her writing life. Patty has had several essays published in Cleveland Plain Dealer, and hopes to have her first novel, Unclaimed, finished this year.