In mid 2008, I completed the Year of the Edit course at the Queensland Writers Centre and I really felt that I was making progress in my writing. I had learned to write, edit and critique work and I was beginning to understand myself as a writer. But I was also nervous about leaving the safety of these classes and continuing to polish my manuscript, write new stories and begin submitting all on my own.
On my own? I didn’t like that idea at all.
So I talked to a friend of mine in the class and we agreed that we could start our own writer’s group. Why join some big group of writers that we don’t know when we could establish our own safe environment? It turned out there was another two writers in the class who were thinking along the same lines. We all lived fairly close to one another and so our group, Authoria, was formed.
Aw, that’s so sweet. So you just found people that wanted a writing group and that was it?
Yes and no. Yes, meaning that serendipity played a huge part in forming Authoria. No, in that much more thought went in to it. For example…
We’re a private writing group – meaning no one can just rock up and join. We had all read and critiqued each other’s work in a QWC class, so we knew the standard of each other’s writing and agreed that we could learn from each other. Even more importantly, we enjoyed each other’s company and we respected each other’s work. All of my fellow Authorians are great friends of mine and I sincerely believe in their talent as writers.
We don’t focus on one genre of writing either. We’re a mix of speculative fiction, crime, general fiction and young adult writing which makes it so much easier when any of us wants to play in a different genre.
There are currently six of us in the group which is a great number. Having the six of us means that we get to submit our writing for critique about every two months. There’s enough of us to glean a fresh perspective of each other’s writing but not so many that it’s overwhelming. It’s also easy to keep ourselves up-to-date with the progress of each other’s manuscripts.
But what do you guys do?
We’re basically a cheersquad for each other but we’re also pushing each other to become better writers. This is how we work.
We set a date to meet once a month and people volunteer to submit their writing for the meeting. As a general rule, no more than three stories are critiqued in each month and we keep to extracts of about ten to fifteen pages.
We’re all good friends, so our monthly catch ups start with a big old chat about writing, the universe and everything. But mostly it’s about critiquing. We start with one submission and all give feedback, working off (and sometimes arguing with) everyone’s opinions before moving on to the next submission.
We have set up a private online group (you can do this for free through yahoo or google) where we can send the whole group messages and also upload our work to share. All submissions for our monthly catch-ups go on this group and it’s much better than clogging up your email.
If you want to be a published writer, you need a writing group. The benefits of having that support and insight in to your writing is absolutely invaluable. To finish, I would like to introduce you all to the current writers in Authoria:
…and me, Kathleen Noud.
You might want to keep an eye out on those names…
(Yes, it’s cheeky but how could I resist?)