The summer of 1998 I sat down to write my first manuscript. Armed with Roald Dahl’s advice to put in two hours a day and to stop at a place where it would be “easy” to pick up again, I got to it.
But the work wasn’t easy. Because while I’d read a ton of novels, I still didn’t instinctively understand story structure or pacing or characterization or much of anything, really. Because while I’d studied a few handbooks on writing for children, the space between learning the ropes and applying what I’d learned was a canyon I wasn’t quite sure how to cross. Because I was embarking on a journey completely alone. No guides with encouragement and wisdom were further down the path. No fellow pilgrims walked with me and held my hand when needed.
It took me six years to find other people also trying to write. I remember learning author Bruce Hale would be visiting a nearby library to host a talk for aspiring authors. Attending that meeting was a turning point for me. Sitting at that table, I was making a statement to a roomful of strangers: I was a writer. I had things to say. I had things to learn. I wanted to be taken seriously. I left that talk energized, motivated, and fueled to keep going.
Last summer I was asked to be a Tuesday Teacher for Hope*Writers, an online membership site devoted to building community and encouraging writers in whatever phase of the writing journey they find themselves to be. As I shared my writing life with listeners, I couldn’t help thinking how a group like Hope*Writers would have saved me from some early wrong turns, would have equipped me to better cross that learning curve divide, and, most importantly, would have provided me with ready-made companions for the journey ahead.
Hope*Writers is opening its membership today, for a limited time. If you’re looking for opportunities to interact with editors, agents, authors, and marketing professionals on a weekly basis, if you’re looking for archives chock full of resources, if you’re looking to find your writing people, this may be the group for you.
A few questions (or thoughts) you might have:
Why the name Hope*Writers? A key component to the Hope*writer philosophy is offering readers hope (which is a huge piece of my work in writing for children).
The name sounds kinda religious. Do I have to be into that sort of thing? Nope. The Hope*Writer website states: “While many of our members find their hope in their faith (and for many that’s Christianity, as hope is a pervading message of that faith), any writer with a message of hope is welcome and will be embraced and helped. It will not be assumed that you hold certain beliefs.”
What kinds of writers are part of the community? While most of the 14,000+ members write non-fiction, there are growing numbers of novelists and children’s writers. In fact, I was invited to speak to this expanding kidlit community.
Is this worth the expense? That’s for you to decide. A yearly membership ($479) costs far less than attending most writing conferences, when you look at travel and lodging and conference fees. There is also a monthly membership option, which is $47 and can be cancelled at any time.
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. If Hope*Writers sounds like it might be a good fit, I encourage you to learn more. If you become a member, be sure to look me up!
All the best to you this year, wherever you are on your writing path.