Write what you know!…or not.

At this point, I was a stay at mom living in rural SW Wisconsin, writing books…that I couldn’t sell.  Writing is a pretty lonely endeavor, and I was getting pretty blue.   I needed…exactly what the online ‘how to write and sell your works!’ said… a writing group.  Except, er, for that whole living in rural SW Wisconsin thing.   I couldn’t find anyone in my town (that I wasn’t related to or that I hadn’t imported with my family from another state) that was even interested in reading science fiction, much less writing it.   I tried online groups, most didn’t deal with the genre I was becoming more and more comfortable with… I found a good site (critters.org) for shorter sci-fi and fantasy works, but the wait and lack of interest to get in the queue for novel length efforts was a little depressing as well.  I needed input.  I needed help.  I needed company.

Then I saw an advertisement for a writing group starting pretty close to me,  and I thought that was just what I was looking for…writing group and close.   What more could I ask for?   So I ran off multiple clean copies of the very beginning of “The Emperor’s Finest”, another set for “Afternoon in Grid Eight”, and because I was not completely and totally lost, a few copies of a short story called “The Freemartin’s Return”, about a young adult reluctantly coming home for a visit.  After all, not everybody loves genre, not everybody gets sci-fi/fantasy, but everyone should get ‘I didn’t do what my parents dreamed I would and it’s causing strife.” stories and away I went.

I was a little put off to realize that I was the youngest there, but with time comes wisdom and a lot of great authors aren’t young any more.   We got started, and that little core of ‘this is not what I’m looking for.’ began to grow in my head.   I do not write non fiction.  I don’t have anything against it, but it doesn’t warm my cockles.  I’m ahead of the game if I can manage straight fiction, and I was in a group with several people looking for input on writing their family memoirs and one vet who was going to write his life experiences… kind of James Herriot leaves occupied Germany to move across the ocean and become a bovine vet.    It was all very interesting, but not what I was hoping for.  However, when my turn came, I read… and my overactive imagination added the sounds of crickets to the silence that followed.  One very nice lady smiled at me and said, “Well, honey, I have no idea what you said, but I’m certain it was good!”

Er…right.   What?!?

Another smiled at me and asked me the question I get all too often in Wisconsin, who am I and where am I from?  Usually that’s someone who thinks I look familiar and they’re trying to figure out who I’m related to.   I demurred with the usual, “I’m a military brat, and I’m not from around here.”

Her eyes lit up and she leaned forward.  Where, she wanted to know, had I been sent to as a military child?

The list is long, and I repeated it quickly.  She nodded, leaned back as if I had all the answers I needed and proclaimed, “Write what you know.  I’m sure your children will want to know all of that.”

It was time for me to give the cricket filled silence.   I don’t write what I know because, well, I already know it.   My character companions take me to places I don’t already know, will never get to see any other way, while I saw my upbringing with my own eyes.  As backwards as it is, the few times I attended the group really helped me understand what I was doing.  And more importantly, what I wasn’t.   But it didn’t solve the fact that I was writing books in a vacuum filled with cricket sounds.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. yhosby
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 21:18:12

    I feel ya on the whole trying to find a writer group thing. I live in West Virginia, and there’s no one interested in writing stories like I am. Sorry when you finally find a group, it’s not really your cup of tea.

    Since there’s nothing around my area, I’ve resorted to everything online. My favorite website so far is the Absolute Write Forum; I notice there’s a lot of Sci Fi writers there, so maybe they could be of help to you too.

    Keep smiling,


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