Tag Archives | networking

Guest Post: Networking: An Essential of the Writing Life

Please welcome my good friend Linda Busby Parker to Wordstrumpet today.  I'll let Linda tell you the story of our friendship, but I want to urge you to go visit her blog, because she is starting a book club on May 1st, and let me just tell you, nobody deconstructs a novel the way Linda does.  You'll learn so much about writing, trust me.  So check it out.  And now read on:

My good friend and fellow writer, Charlotte, invited me to occasionally post on her blog.  She favors me by doing the same—posting on my blog.  Here’s my first post for Wordstrumpet.

NETWORKING:  AN ESSENTIAL OF THE WRITING LIFE

I first met Charlotte in the fall of 2001 when we both entered the low-residency MFA in Writing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.  We were both in a workshop taught by Sena Naslund, author of AHAB’S WIFE, FOUR SPIRITS, and ABUNDANCE.  Charlotte submitted a terrifically good short story for workshop—I still remember it.  It was subtle and understated.  For whatever reasons, we hit it off right away and became companions at meals and joined a group of other students after hours for a glass of wine to close the day down. 

Our circle of writers in the MFA program grew.  At the last residency in the fall of 2003, Charlotte and I participated in a novel workshop.  Each of the five participants submitted a completed novel for critique.  That workshop was led by writer/professor Julie Brickman.  The five students in that course plus Professor Julie became close friends, colleagues, and supporters of each other.  We called ourselves THE NOVEL GODDESSES. 

It’s been nearly seven years since that workshop convened, but the novel goddesses are still friends and colleagues.  Two members of the group—Julie and Deidre—reside in California, Charlotte in Oregon, Maryann in Michigan, Katy in Kentucky, and I’m in Alabama.  We’ve enjoyed one writing retreat—all six of us came—on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.  In the fall of 2010, we will again convene as a group—all six participating—in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In the intervening seven years since we first met, we have supported each other through many writing triumphs and disappointments. We’ve also given advice to each other when asked to do so.  On a personal level, we’ve seen each other through the deaths of four of our collective parents, the major illness of one husband, and the marriage of one daughter.

Having these writing sisters has sustained me more times than I can count.  They are the first group of friends/colleagues I go to when I’m terribly disappointed about what’s happening in the writing world in general or my writing world in particular.  It’s also the first group I go to when I want to share a great joy in my writing life. 

I’ve established other networks of writing friends here locally in Mobile and at both Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, but the Novel Goddesses constitute the largest of my writing networks—the Goddesses have remained a close group and continue to offer support for each member in the network.  I cannot stress enough the importance of forming networks if you are a writer.  The writing highway is crooked, the hills steep, the disappointments numerous, but joys are also a part of that crooked highway.  Networks get us through the crooked bends and twists in that highway and give us sustaining friendships when it’s time to celebrate!

Linda Busby Parker is author of the award-winning novel, Seven Laurels and is a professor of writing at The University of South Alabama in Mobile.  She also teaches in a low-residency program in Continuing Education—The Writers’ Loft—at Middle Tennessee State University.  Her blog is www.lindabusbyparker.us 

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It’s Sunday: Do You Know Where Your Niche Is?

I just found mine.

It wasn't really lost, in the sense that it was something I desperately missed.  It was more like it was buried under the multitude of interests and ideas that crowd my sometimes-mushy brain (too much going on in there!) 

It wasn't even something that I felt I needed.  The experts, however, say otherwise.  It took quite a bit of convincing, and reading a book to get me searching for my niche.  And then, as is so often the case, I found it right under my nose.

Are you ready?

My niche is information about creating a writing life while writing your book or waiting for it to sell. Or, in short, creating a life devoted to writing.  That has a nice ring to it.  Right?

I know.  Duh. Like I haven't been writing about just that already.  But you'd be surprised how difficult it can be to decide what it is exactly that I do.  Because, like many writers, I do many different things.  I'm terrible at networking events because my 20-second elevator pitch goes something like this:

"And what do you do?"  (Woman dressed in killer designer suit with beautifully lacquered nails.)

"Um, I'm a writer."  (Me, in my usual writerly outfit of gypsy skirt and lots of jewelry.)

"What do you write?"  (Killer woman.)

"Well, I ghostwrite.  And I teach writing.  And I coach writers.  And I run a writing program.  And I write this blog that talks about writing.  And then there's my own writing, the novels and short stories."

I'm telling the last part of it to the woman's back–the suit cuts a gorgeous line from the rear, too–because I've lost her.  She is off looking for someone who can tell her succinctly what he can do.

Since I'm not a big fan of networking events anyway, except for one I belong to in LA, I've managed to convince myself I don't really need a niche.  I have now seen the error of my ways and will spend the next year repenting. 

Actually, I'm really happy about this because identifying my niche gives me permission to do more of what I'm already doing.  I'm going to continue writing posts about craft and creativity and how they apply to making a life devoted to writing. 

One of my twitter friends, Mary, asked me to define "writing life" after I proudly tweeted about my niche.   And so here goes.  Creating a life devoted to writing can mean actually making a living writing, supplementing your income with writing, or just learning how to make contacts and attend events relating to writing, even if you don't need to earn a living from it.  A life devoted to writing implies that you make time for it regularly–another thing I talk a lot (some would probably say too much).  Creating a life devoted to writing means that the written word (and you practicing it) is front and center in your life.

So, there you have it, a niche, found.  And now excuse me while I go practice my elevator pitch.

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I Find Myself Once Again in Portland

Having left LA last Friday and flown up the coast, I am adjusting to the relative cold up here (oh who am I kidding, forget the relative part it is flippin' freezing, 50 degrees colder than it was when I left California). 

But this morning was one of those foggy autumn mornings that I love, and when I stepped out back to make sure Igor, the blind pug, got himself off the deck okay I saw one of the 50 spider webs that ring our house covered in dew.   So I grabbed my cell phone and took a photo.  It is not the best of photos but I am happy with it anyway.   Pretty  awesome spider web, eh?

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I'll be returning to southern California next month, to keep Robert Hoyk company while his wife is out of town, and also to meet with clients.  I love my clients.  They all live in LA, every single blessed one of them.  And that means I get to return to LA often.  Here are some of the recent reasons I have enjoyed LA:

An Empowered Woman.  An amazing networking group–and more.  Let me tell you, I've always hated and resisted networking groups but I love attending events put on by An Empowered Woman because they are fun. Good shopping, interesting speakers, a fabulous collection of women, what could be better? Desiree Doubroux, the founder, is a force of nature.  She's amazing, and so is her group.

One of the event was held at the Luxe Hotel in Bel Air.  I think that's where it was, I still get confused in LA.  It is on Sunset Boulevard, right off the 405, okay?  That's as specific as I can get. And wherever it was, I loved it.  That is how I think I should live all the time: men fluttering around as I arrive, lovely outdoor seating areas, a gorgeous lobby.

As always, staying with my wonderful friend, Suzanne, who is an healer extraordinaire.   She celebrated her birthday while I was there and besides eating at Maria's Kitchen (amazing Italian food and the best staff in the business–thank you, Joshua, we love you) we also drove up to the Mt. Wilson Observatory.  Fabulous views of the entire LA area, even though the valleys were all covered in smoke from the fires.  Fascinating place–the observatory was closed but it is quite an installation, the peak is covered with transmission towers and the like.  Not exactly sure what all goes on up there, but I'd like to find out.  I think.  The full moon rose on the drive back down the mountain and the sun set brilliantly red from the fires on the other side.  Amazing.

Another evening we drove up to Chantry Flat, then hiked down into Santa Anita Canyon.  Walking back up was a bitch, but it was worth it because at the bottom of the canyon there are cabins.  They are only accessible by foot and to get supplies in you have the packed in on burros.  Is that cool or what?  We only saw  a couple of them, but apparently there are many more still in existence and a whole camp at the bottom of the canyon.  You can see photos of it all here.

And besides all the fun, there was work, too, such as meeting with prospective clients, who shall remain nameless, and meeting with fellow writers. If you are in the Pasadena or Alta Dena area and you need help with marketing or marketing writing, you should call Don Simkovich.  He'll be happy to help you out, and he'll do a great job for you. 

I also spent a great deal of time critiquing the novel of my screenwriting friend Brian, who despite my best efforts does not yet have a blog or website that I can link you to.  And I spent time working on packets for the Loft.   I even got some work done on my novel while I was there. 




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