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