Being a closet writer is a lonely path.
Many people make it a successful one, but I’ve learned it’s altogether more fulfilling and fun to let the world in a little.
For years, two people were allowed to see my work: my husband and one of my dearest friends. I burnt out the former (who has outstanding copyediting skills) by making him read multiple drafts of the same tale. I was more careful with my friend, but she’s an encouraging sort who thinks a lot like I do. As a result, she was always able to see what I was trying to get at and was able to appreciate it, without taking on the much harder task of telling me I really wasn’t delivering the best story I could.
Then, after considerable effort, my writing cousin-in-law finally convinced me to attend the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. I’d been to Writing Weeks for festivals before, I claimed. Not the same she said. This is about craft and business and support.
RWA, I discovered, is for writers who want to have readers. It’s a subtle difference. In my experience, the other writers’ festivals seem to be either more for readers who want to hear writers talk, or else to be about literary purity: perfecting prose rather than telling a tale.
I liked the supportive environment at RWA so much, I joined and went the following year. I joined the Critique Partners programme and, wow, my writing improved more in that year than in the previous ten. Feedback is a marvellous thing, especially when it’s constructive. I entered my first RWA competition – and, most astonishing of all, I won.
That brought me one of the greatest gifts anyone seeking a career change can ever hope for: an outstanding mentor to oversee your first foray into your new world.
I now have a really good story I’m finally ready to share. Well, almost. It’s ready, I’m still working on me being so, but that’s another blog!
None of this would have happened if I’d kept to what I was doing, which was going it alone. So there’s a lot of truth in the adage: if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.