Benefits of Writing Groups #Essay

You may think that writing is a solitary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. I belong to several writing groups that meet regularly to write, share, and critique our work. Today, I’d like to talk about two of them that have been beneficial to me over the years.

The first is called Third Thursday Poets. This started in 2006 as a nine-week class taught by an instructor who was, herself, a published poet. After the class ended, we agreed to meet once a month, and the instructor offered to continue facilitating our meetings. This went on for about two years until our instructor felt she needed to leave the group. We’ve been meeting monthly ever since and take turns facilitating our meetings.

We usually meet for about two hours. Our facilitator provides a prompt that we write on for about twenty minutes. We then each share what we’ve written. After that, the facilitator gives us another prompt as a homework assignment that we can bring to the next meeting. During the second half of the meeting, we critique each other’s homework assignments. Of course, participants don’t have to follow any of the prompts. We can write poetry about anything we want in any form and share it.

When this group started as a class, my late husband had just been discharged from the nursing home after suffering his first stroke, and I’d started caring for him. Most of the poems I wrote for this group were inspired by my caregiving experiences, and many of them ended up in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. I’ll always be grateful for the feedback I received from participants of this group.

The other group that has been helpful to me over the years is called Explorations in Creative Writing. I discovered it in 2009 when someone mentioned the group in a comment on my blog. This is mostly a fiction critique group, and we’re laid-back and close-knit. We meet once a week via phone conference to critique each other’s work, which we send to our email list before each meeting. Our participants are scattered across the country and are mostly blind or visually impaired.

Although most of this group’s participants write fiction, I felt comfortable submitting an occasional poem for critique. But I got the most help with my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds and my novel, The Red Dress. I’m working on another novel, with which they’ve also been helpful. I’ll always be thankful for the feedback and support this group has given me.

I belong to other writers’ organizations. But because the two groups I’ve discussed are small, we can be more intimate and provide participants with a better experience.

Thanks to blogger Lynda McKinney Lambert for inspiring this post. How about you? Do you belong to any writing groups? How have they helped you? I look forward to reading your responses, either in the comment field below or on your own blog with a link to this post. Thank you for coming today.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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An Interview with My Writing Group #The Red Dress Promotion

Explorations in Creative Writing is a group with whom I meet at least once a bweek, mostly for critique purposes. While I was writing The Red Dress, they were supportive and helpful by providing feedback and suggestions, for which I’m eternally grateful. Soon after the book was released, others in the group asked me questions about it and other topics during one of our meetings. Thanks to Jackie McBride at Brighter Vision Technologies, facilitator of this group, for recording the interview and making it available for me to post here and on my website. You can hear it by clicking this link.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Defiant Mind #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke

by Ron Smith

Copyright 2016.

 

In this memoir, Canadian author and publisher Ron Smith describes what it was like for him to have and recover from a stroke. He starts by describing, in great detail, the day he had his stroke in November of 2012. He then discusses his hospitalization and recovery: how he re-learned to eat, walk, and perform other personal care tasks and how he developed friendships with his roommates and other patients in the hospital.

Because of his determination and by some miraculous twist of fate, he was able to go home for Christmas that year. He describes the period After that when he went through several more months of outpatient rehabilitation, then tried other treatments such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

Throughout the book, he describes the love and support from his wife and other family and friends he received during his recovery. He explains how not being able to eat right after the stroke triggered memories of a trip to Europe fifty years earlier when he nearly starved to death. He shares other memories brought on by his experiences after the stroke. He quotes other sources of information about strokes and provides a bibliography at the end of the book.

Having been a caregiver to my late husband Bill, who suffered two strokes, I agree with many of the points made in this book, including the fact that the system often gives up on stroke victims too soon. In Mr. Smith’s case, he only had about six months of rehabilitation before he was left to fend for himself. With Bill, therapists claimed he’d reached a plateau two months after his first stroke. When I brought him home, we tried two outpatient facilities. They both gave up on him after a few months. I don’t know about Canada, but part of the problem here in the U.S. is that Medicare and other insurance programs don’t cover therapy if progress isn’t being shown. There’s no coverage for therapy to maintain the strength you have once you reach a plateau. So, unless you can afford $70.00 or more per session, you’re out of luck.

I wish Ron Smith’s book had been around when Bill was alive. Maybe if Bill had read it, he would have been inspired to write about his own experiences, with my help, of course. I’d suggested it to him, but he hadn’t been interested. So, after he passed, I wrote My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which is available from Smashwords free until the end of the month. I hope those who read both books will be encouraged, if they’ve suffered a stroke, or if they haven’t,  be persuaded to do all they can to prevent one. As Bill once said, strokes are no fun.

 

My Books

 

New: The Red Dress: A Novel

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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