The isolated imagination is easily corrupted by theory, but the writer inside his community seldom has such a problem. ~ Flannery O’Connor
In his book On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, best-selling author Stephen King trashed the idea of writing groups and book clubs while asserting that success is usually the result of a writer’s grind. ie the ability to stay true to the cause, write consistently and rummage regularly to develop ideas, and style until you find your voice.
Well, it will be audacious to disagree with a genius who has repeatedly proven to be a master of the game time and time again. This is especially so when I am a great fan that is still learning the ropes. Thus I can only interrogate his take carefully and add mine where necessary.
I will say that King belongs to the old-school generation of writers like Isaac Asimov that portray the craft as a lonely one. Indeed he wrote the following statement in the same title: “Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”
It is also evident in King’s social life. He is an avid reader who takes a book to basketball games. Who does that? In the first place, I rarely watch a game of sports alone on TV let alone going to the stadium without a companion. How can I watch a game while reading? And even if King reads during intervals how long do these breaks last for one to flow with the story he’s reading?
When I started the cmonionline essay competition, the initial idea was to encourage young people who are interested in writing to consistently put pen to paper for a token reward that will be determined by judges. While this was going on I enrolled in a postgraduate course where the bulk of our study was group discussions. The collaborative efforts of classmates provided a significant portion of the knowledge I acquired. That was when I decided to switch to peer review and consequently created a group.
Since then we have held webinars and retreats and even trained some people in Graphic Design. Today I’m glad that one of our most consistent writers Oluwaseun Osanyinro has published a book — The Christian Business Mind — while another writer will also be published soon. Of course, every writer gets credit for her work but most will tell you that they may not have achieved it without the support of others. The iconic Ursula K. Le Guin succinctly captured the importance of writing groups thus; Collaborative workshops and writers’ peer groups hadn’t been invented when I was young. They’re a wonderful invention. They put the writer into a community of people all working at the same art, the kind of group musicians and painters, and dancers have always had.
The benefits of joining a book club or writing group are too many. It’s even more so now with the proliferation of the internet which makes it easier to meet. Besides the exposure and knowledge you gain, you also get resources and other free stuff like editing, and beta readers. In addition, there is a sense of camaraderie that engender encouragement and feedback to help you refine your craft. The icing for me, however, is the fun and wits that spice the conversation. Writers are usually witty folks and when they interact the abundance of talent is evident.
So if your net worth is your network as they say, then, by all means, build it by joining a writing group like cmonionline because we are on the move again. This time we want to write a book in a year and we are having a series of meetings to conceptualize this. Below is the link to join via Google Meet every Sunday this month.
A Book In A Year
Sunday, 7 May 2023, 6:00–7:00 pm
Time zone: Europe/Dublin
Google Meet joining info
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/ott-cvqp-pcq