"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
(This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, by the way...)
So this past weekend, I attended the monthly meeting of my local RWA group, which I joined back in February. It's a small group (there were only 5 of us there Saturday), though I think they claim membership of around 20-30 or so.
The best thing that happened: the core of members who apparently meet every other Tuesday to do more in-depth critiques of each other's work invited me to join their Tuesday group. I was flattered, honestly, because it's an invitation-only group and many of the members are multiply-published.
The second-best thing that happened: I shared some pages out loud with the group for the first time. Seriously, I can stand up in front of a class of 17-year olds, I can speak to a crowd of 500+ at union meetings, but the thought of baring my writing soul in front of 4 other writers terrifies me. Crazy. Ultimately, of course, I was glad I did, 'cause I got some really good feedback for this new-old-resurrected novel I want to work on. Maybe next time I won't feel so much like my heart is leaping out of my chest. I guess if I want to join the Tuesday group , I better get over my fear!
Finally, at the end of the meeting, the topic of conversation turned to recruiting new members. We churned out a few ideas: ads in the local papers, recruitment mailings to local RWA members, monthly newsletter.
So here's the question: what would make you (or what made you) join a writers' group? Do you find more support or more pressure from sharing your work with others? Do you enjoy the dialogue about the publishing industry, or would you rather stay focused on your own pursuits and learn from reading rather than discussing? Would programs from different writers or speakers draw you in to a group? Lunch? How far would you drive for a monthly, or bimonthly, meeting? And what would you hope to gain from your membership?