Since I decided that, by golly, I’m going to write that novel (and start a blog, get a Twitter account, and make a Facebook page), I have learned that there are all sorts of writing related things out there. I guess I was naive. Perhaps a bit simple-minded. But, for a bunch of people who like to sit in front of a keyboard or blank piece of paper, we sure do a lot of group stuff.
Maybe we’re all sick of solitaire?
Sure, I expected a few professional network type things. Editors & publishers have to do this sort of stuff, right? I was even vaguely aware of some type of event (a convention maybe?) where people can get copies of various types of books. I really don’t know what it is, but my dad used to come home from some business trip once or twice a year with a giant stack of books for me.
So, it’s not like I expected that I’d find my new peers to be entirely anti-social semi-humans living in dank cellars writing about their imaginary friends. At the very least, there would be people like the teaching assistant I had for my first college English course. She had kids our age and was going back for her PhD. Master of cutting the needless stuffing from our essays, she must have taken courses to get that good at it. (To this day, I hear her voice when editing, “That was four lines of bull sh*t we didn’t need…”)
But here I sit, at my keyboard (most) every day in a mild state of shock/panic at the vast amount of writing stuff (nice descriptive word, right?) out there. There are courses, online and in person. Workshops. Writing groups. Okay, I expected those. I wasn’t surprised that there are genre-related groups. It makes sense. But the vast array of awards, contests, forums, classes, conventions, conferences, publications, groups, and miscellaneous other things (twitter meetings?) is overwhelming.
I confess, at times I feel so much like an industry outsider I wonder if I need to either spend all my time learning about the industry, but then when would I write?
At least now I know what NaNoWriMo is (and c’mon, couldn’t writers come up with a better acronym???).
Are even half those contests real? What is necessary? Useful? A waste of time? Am I just a hermit who doesn’t know about all these things while everyone else has known since 5th grade? Okay, I know I am (I don’t have TV), but am I that much of a hermit???
So, dear readers, I’d like your help.
If you are a veteran (or quasi veteran) what do you consider indispensable? Is there a particular group, publication, event, or something that has been beneficial to you? What is a total waste of time/energy? Can people just write and still get published (if your name isn’t JK Rowling) or are there some necessary evils- I mean events?
For those of you who are newbies, what have you come across that you wanted to know more about, wondered if it was a hoax, totally baffled you, or you tried? Have you joined or considered joining any organizations? Any trade publications you’ve found helpful/not worth it?
I’d like to do a couple follow-ups on this, so please feel free to leave as much commentary as you’d like. Or, if you don’t want to totally put yourself out there, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).