Monday, November 17, 2014

Interview with my writing group

Today I had the honour of sharing some of my playwrighting adventure on the Dyane Ford's blog Dropped Pebbles.

And meanwhile on this blog...

The writing group I'm proud to call mine and I worked hard to complete an interview for a writing magazine. We submitted and hoped for publication. When publication didn't come, I decided to be proactive. I decided to publish it here, on my blog. I hope you enjoy learning more about this talented and endlessly supportive group.

Left to right:  Amber Harvey, Gail Woodward, Leanne Dyck (me), David Burrowes and Susan Snider

  1. Tell us the name of your group, where you are located and how large the group is.

Name:  The Mayne Island writing group
Location:  Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
How large:  six members—although all six members are rarely attended, usually about four or five.

  1. Summarize your group in 1 – 3 sentences

We are a group of writers with diverse writing styles, genres and goals. We are devoted to developing our craft and try to be open-minded and attempt to leave our egos at the door. Together we have supported each other through many challenges and victories.

  1. What works for you in terms of format? Have you tried formats that don’t work so well?

Submissions are usually limited to approximately 1,500 words. We distribute our submissions, by email, at least a week before meeting. Our submission is critiqued during a round table discussion where we each contribute. Submissions are read aloud by the writer. This allows the other writers to notice oral nuances that might get missed on the written page.

  1. How often do you meet, and what do you do during meetings?

We meet, once a month, 10 months of the year. We send out an agenda and one person is designated the timekeeper. Our two-hour meeting begins with a general check-in. An individual critiquing of submissions follows. We conclude with a discussion regarding group business and/or personal reflections.

  1. What do you do between meetings?

Between meetings we may meet on an informal basis—but rarely. Usually we work independently on our own writing projects. At times we’ve read each other’s complete manuscripts and made helpful suggestions. Some members email links to writing related resources. As a group, we’ve attended writing retreats, workshops and festivals. We’ve also supported one and another by attending group member events such as book readings.

  1. What are the most important ways you support each other?

We support each other during the meetings by offering constructive feedback, lending support and listening carefully.

  1. What have you learned as you’ve grown together?

We’ve learned effective ways to support each other’s work, for example by offering and receiving constructive feedback.

  1. Do you have any tips for creating and maintaining a successful writing group?

Meet in a mutual supportive environment where all members feel listened to and understood. Check in before and after offering feedback. What type of feedback is being requested—construction of the manuscript or overall sense of the story? Was your feedback received in the manner you intended—where you understood?

The person at whose house we meet is no longer “host” once everyone is welcomed. Coffee and tea are available and everyone helps herself. The host becomes just one more member of the group. No demands are placed on any member. We acknowledge that everyone grows at her own rate, in her own time. The group is there for the members, not visa versa. Keep it fun. Enjoy each other as you build your group.

Of course, you've already meet Amber Harvey here. Amber shared a poem she penned here. I reviewed Mayne Island Skeletons by Amber Harvey hereI'm excited that soon you will be able to meet the other members of my writing group...
David Burrowes will share his three part short story on November 21st (this coming Friday), 28th and December 5th.
We will celebrate Winter Solstice on Friday, December 19th with a poem penned by Gail Woodward.
Susan Snider has published a cookbook full of mouthwatering recipes.  Get your copy today.

More information regarding critique groups...

Why You Should Ignore Most of the Advice from your Critique Group by Anne R. Allen

More information regarding how to acquire feedback about your writing...

5 Ways To Get Honest Feedback on Your Manuscript

And there is some humour in critiques, thanks to Writer Unboxed...

Dear Dwight:  A Critique Letter

Sharing my author journey...

An effective means of marketing your newly published book is by offering author readings. Dreaming of this future situation, I practice offering readings of my writing every opportunity I get. 
Last Friday, on Mayne Island, during an open mic (a new must-attend event on Mayne Island every second Friday of the month), was such an opportunity -- and I offered this...

Through a trail of music notes by Leanne Dyck

Like many of you, I was schooled about music by my peers. "Country is for nerds," they told me. "Rock is cool."

Holding a hairbrush in my hand like a microphone, I sang along to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Guess Who, Neil Young... I thought Neil Young was so dreamy.

When I was in university, I attended the Winnipeg Folk Festival with a group of friends. Under a sun-filled endless blue sky and through the misty rain, we became a community united through music.

That festival changed me, profoundly. I became a hard core folkie.

The man I fell in love with had an extensive music collection. I searched these records, tapes and CDs. Amongst the rock musicians, I saw names I didn't recognize.

"Whose Peter Rowan?" I asked and my boyfriend put the CD into his sound system. I listened, captivated and labelled Peter Rowan a folk musician.

One day, my boyfriend asked, "Would you like to go to Tacoma, Washington for Wintergrass and listen to Bluegrass?"



I guess he noticed my puzzled expression. "You know, musicians like Peter Rowan."

That was enough for me, I packed my suitcase.

At that festival, scattered throughout the hotel lobby, we saw groups of people singing and playing instruments. I recognized fiddles and guitars but I wasn't sure what the other instruments were.

"Where are the drums?" I wondered, out loud.

"There's no drums in Bluegrass," my boyfriend told me. "Do you know who that is?" 

I followed his line of sight and saw a man playing a guitar. There wasn't anything special about him, that I could see. He was just some guy with a guitar. 

"That's Peter Rowan," my boyfriend said.

Well, that totally floored me. I stuttered and stammered and behaved like a star struck teenager.

But I noticed no one else did. He wasn't being clawed to death by eager fans. No one was hounding him for an autograph. 

"How can he just be standing there playing his guitar? Don't they know who he is?"

"Of course, they do," my boyfriend said. "But that's the thing about Bluegrass, anyone can play with anyone else. The stars don't act like stars. They're just people."

We found out room and my boyfriend said, "You're going to love this weekend. The opening act is the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe."

We took the elevator down to the concert hall and I was lost in thought. The father of Bluegrass? This music sounds so ancient, he must be older than dirt.

We found our seats and soon the master of ceremonies introduced the opening act. They took the stage -- younger musicians followed by older ones.

Then, judging by the howls and applause, I guessed that the fragile, old man who'd just joined them was Bill Monroe. He looked like he should have been in a wheelchair. I hoped nothing happened to him on stage.

To his credit, Bill made it safely through the first couple of songs. But then he appeared to keel over -- bending forward at the waist. Is he clutching his chest? I worried and I knew I wasn't the only one. The entire audience offered a collective moan.

A younger band member voiced our concern, "Is Bill okay?"

The answer came from his older band mate. "Bill? Sure, he's just getting down."

That said, as if on clue, Bill's hand flew across the strings. And he proved right then, right there why this was his music.

Bluegrass' high, lonesome sound stole my heart.

Google defines Bluegrass as 'a kind of country music influenced by jazz and blues.'

Country, huh?

Well, I guess that makes me a nerd.


Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - Your writing group sounds wonderful. Absolutely wonderful! And I'm tickled pink for each and every one of you.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Laurie. And you're right. It is wonderful and so important for a writer to find a supportive group. Or, at least, it was very important to this writer.

letscutthecrap said...

I like your group. Everyone is serious about his and her writing. It's not so big everyone is heard and receives a critique.

I belonged to a writing group of five, for about a year and a half. It then decreased to three and fizzled out. I miss the support and feedback.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment.
I'm sorry to hear that your group is no longer together, Tess. I know I would really miss mine if we no longer meet. Perhaps you could find another one.

Leanne Dyck said...

Or failing that, just meet with a few friends.