Friday, January 7, 2011

Help Us Dream

Will you find it surprising that the phrase from Jeff's interview in Wednesday's post that stuck with me most was not the one about mutant alien vampires who will eat my brains?

No, the one I kept hearing again and again was "All the dispossessed authors and readers are beginning to walk around in the sunshine and find each other. And that’s only going to increase." It delights me to think that the Novel Matters community is one of those sunny places where great things can happen.

Here you have begun the kind of friendships we so often have urged you to seek. I love it when I see comments on our posts that are not addressed to us, but to other Novel Matters readers. I hope you will find ways to contact each other by email, or if you are so lucky as to live near each other, by phone or even in person.

Here you have shared the kind of epiphanies Megan shared after Latayne's post on Monday. If you are a writer, I urge you to take those kinds of emotional, life changing experiences as opportunities to study a novel, to reverse engineer it by asking what the author did that affected you to such an extent. This will teach you valuable things about writing those kinds of niche novels you love that you may never find in a book about writing. (And there is no better teacher than Sharon Souza.)

I'm going to let you in on a secret, and to give you an assignment.

We six at Novel Matters are at present actively dreaming of ways we can change our site to offer you more. In fact, tomorrow we will have one of our fabulous conference calls (you really have to listen in sometime) to dream of ways we can make this little patch of sunshine a better place to form community, to introduce readers to great writers, to encourage the great writers among our readers to write their very best and send it out into the world.

So here is your assignment: tell us what to talk about tomorrow. What would make this an even better place for you? Please do dream big. It's what we like to do around here.


Unknown said...

This is a WONDERFUL idea, Katy.

I sincerely hope our readers fill the comment section with ideas they would like to see happen on Novel Matters.

Dream big: what is missing for you as a writer when you turn to your online community?

You don't have to have a concrete idea a la, please do this or that. Just share a wish, dream, or idea with us. I'll take note of it, and all six of us will discuss how/if we can help realize your idea.

Lynn Dean said...

I haven't the foggiest notion how this dilemma could be solved, but I suspect it frustrates many good writers. We hear editors and agents say "turn in your best product" and "we don't have time to offer specific advice for improvement." Consequently, I believe most serious wannabes spend considerable time studying the general advice (some of it contradictory) and filtering their manuscript through many rounds of critiquing before submitting. When a rejection says, "It just didn't sparkle for me," how do you separate some legitimate unnamed flaw yet-to-be-addressed from one man's opinion?

I see lots of advice that helped me immensely as a beginner, but not so much that explains the difference between "you're an excellent writer" and shiny-enough-for-publication.

Jan Cline said...

I guess I sometimes long for someone to say "let me see what you're writing." Im not sure how that relates to what you will be talking about tomorrow, but I wonder if other authors seek validation from other, better, more experienced authors that aren't necessarily their critique partners. I know that we are all most interested in our own work, but I think getting a little taste of what we are all creating could help us understand one another look beyond our own desk.

Gia Cooper said...

I have a hard time finding the correct circles for my writing (genre). I'd love to find and maintain excellent critique partners--writers that are hungry to give and receive.

I am relatively new at blogging and the circles I am landing in, or being pointed to, have nothing for me. I don't read YA or para novels...nor do I write them. Having a place and group of people I can go to for help on ALL of this, would be amazing.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Oh Oh Oh, I know. ;)

Janet had some great posts this week about stuff we should know. I like a spin off on this.

I'm especially interested in your experiences at various stages of the business, and advice/insights about your relationships with your agent, editor and fellow writers.

That's what I thunk! (And yes, I meant thunk. It's Friday and I'm having fun!).

Enjoy your talk. To be a fly on the wall of that one!
~ Wendy

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I'm very new to this site. But already I'm feeling a sense of community! Awesome.

I agree with most of the other posts. It is essential to a writer to have feed back. I, personally, have a great network of writing friends who help read my work. However, there are times when I'm at a loss as far as how a writing group can be run.

Maybe you could discuss some fun and creative ways to get the old imagination going as far as writing groups go. Does that make sense?

Megan Sayer said...

Wow, how exciting!
(Kathleen I loved that quote too, although I did post the other one to facebook to see what kind of reaction it would get : )).

I've actually had this very thought in the past, wondering if it would ever be possible to see Novel Matters move beyond a blog and into forums, page critiques, writing challenges.

Are you guys familiar with Nathan Bransford's site? He has a blog, and also a forums site, where people discuss all sorts of writing-related topics. Forums seem to be a good way of dealing with branching-off conversations.
He also did (still does?) page critique fridays, where people post a page which is then selected by a random-number-generator and then published for critique by the general blog community.

I've also just found, who have writing challenges. They put up a word or phrase (this week's is "once in a blue moon") and people have to write a short piece (150-750 words) based on that. I'm loving it (all two weeks of my active membership!) because its forcing me to work on improving my words and language (makes a nice change from all the big-picture structure stuff I've been working on). Even synopsis critique forums would be's my two pages, does it make sense?

Have a great time. Bet you'll come up with some beauties!

Megan Sayer said...

have to go soon, keeping it short, sorry if this doesn't make much sense:

the thing that sets novel matters apart from all other writing blogs and forums is your profound ability to discuss the spiritual side of writing - what God is saying on the subject. Love to see/discuss/learn more

Bonnie Grove said...

I'm reading all these comments, and I promise we will discuss each one tomorrow evening - I'll keep this open for this evening and most of Saturday - let's keep talking!!!

I'll make specific comments a bit later. I'm working hard to get video skype working. Ugh!

Kathleen Popa said...

What wonderful, amazing ideas here. We will certainly discuss each one of them tomorrow. Thank you, each one of you for being part of us.

Lori Benton said...

My tank's empty after spending the whole day doing laundry and cleaning an elderly relative's apartment to turn back over to management (and barely making a dent!)... but the forum idea is intriguing.

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Ooh, yes! Many times I've thought how I'd love to peek over the shoulder of a fellow commenter and see what's on their writing desk. And Jan, yes, how wonderful it would be to have the eye of any of these established and gifted authors.

Loving Megan's suggestions for opening up this blog in these practical, real-world kinds of directions. The one thing we're all short on is time. I envisage something like a tasting platter, where we come together around tidbits of real writing: a page or even a paragraph from our works in progress. And I'm really interested in the forum-type setting where conversations can move sideways a little more freely.

Like Wendy, I'm also curious to peek further behind the curtain of the publishing world. The nitty-gritty stuff of personal experience. We're fascinated by you wonderful creatures called authors.

Above all, though, keep doing what you're doing. I love Novel Matters. There's just something about this blog.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I'm not sure if it's too late to post a suggestion...

Being new I don't know all the topics you've covered (I looked back a little in the archieves). I was wondering if you ladies would be open to telling us the story of your first published book. I think that there must be a few of us who are either writing our first novel or attempting to get that novel published. It's emotional. It's nerve wracking. It's lonely. And it would be fantastic to hear of others who have experienced it and came out published.


Henrietta Frankensee said...

Too late to influence the conference, I'd still like to thank you for encouraging us to contribute. I love all the ideas and look forward to the new year of Novel Matters.