5. fellowship [HOPE]: What community has engaged you most this year and what did it you get out of your participation?
This year has been a year of significant growth for me as a writer. I credit this to the unprecedented feedback that I've received from the writing community at Writers' Village University.
I've been a member of this group for just over a year now, but I was too timid to use the novel writing forums on the website and post my own novel in its entirety (chapter by chapter, that is, not all at once). But this fall, after a year's membership at WVU, I took a deep breath, and posted my first chapter.
Feedback was overall encouraging. And that was something that I think I needed at this point in my writing. Not to say that my posted chapter was perfect--it was far from it. But the feedback I received gave useful, informed suggestions, many of which I could use. And having multiple sets of eyes really does make a difference. I was stunned with what I missed by being so close to my writing.
Like most (if not all) writers, having someone read your work is both what you long for and what you fear the most. The idea that others won't be enchanted by your characters, or what you meant to express so eloquently came out as over-writing...or a million other of your biggest fears cross your mind the moment before you hit "submit." But you must get over that hurdle. Press the button, and give your writing over to fresh eyes.
You see, interspersed with words that hurt, pointing out your flaws and shortcomings, are the other words. The words that stick with you longer than the prick of a thorn. These words are the sweet fragrance of flattery.
I've realized this year, that although the thorns hurt and can draw blood, it's the fragrance I remember. It's the people who validate my writing, and in doing so, validate the fact that I can do this. They have become my cheerleaders, and I hope I'm theirs as well.