Why Art Needs Community

Art in community can create extraordinary things. Consider Tolkien’s and Lewis’ Inklings or Hemingway’s’ and Steins’ Stratford-on-Odeon. These are just a couple of writer communities that shaped fiction today.

The conference my writers group puts on twice a year – the Jot Writers Conference – is not earth shattering or genre changing but I’d like to share with you three separate conversations I had. If you were there and have something to share, please do so in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab via Compfight cc

As we finished the sign in portion of the conference and the first speaker was about to begin, I met someone from a local publisher. They were a new establishment and wanted to reached out to our writers group to share the news. They even traveled down from Grand Rapids, where we are from, to connect. This is what conferences are all about. Making friends and connections. If you are in Michigan, connect with them here.

After I finished my presentation about blogging I answered questions and made my way to the back of the room. There I met a woman who said she heard about the conference from a local author who volunteered at the Council on Aging. She asked me what she needed to do to get a blog started.

I was thrilled that someone who is well into retirement was considering something new. If I reach that age, I hope to have that sort of gusto to try new things.

A few writers who attended the Jot Conference in Grand Rapids came to the event in Three Rivers. One of them found me after my talk and said she wanted to shout Amen! as I was speaking. I’m not a preacher but this brief comment meant a lot. Every writer and speaker needs encouragement. This helped boost my confidence for the next time I speak in a few weeks.

I took away many thoughts from Jot that I am still working through. Three of them that I think of now connect with the bite sized stories above. Writing in community can create connections, that it’s never to late to try anything, and that a little encouragement can be just what any writer needs.

I hope you thank those in your community often.

Nothing is built overnight and nothing is built alone.

Have you experienced the joy, encouragement, and comradery in your writers group? Please share below.

My Writing Update

My blogs are always posted before 8AM. Today I’m unusually late for the best of reasons. I was too busy recovering from the Jot Writers Conference that I helped put on and presented at that I had to hold off until tonight.

Here is the list of my blogs this week. I hope you found some encouragement, inspiration, and a little of yourself in them.

Writing Update

Monday’s post was all about organization. As we move ahead with our blogs and websites we can forget who may be watching. This post is a response to one written by Chad Allen over at Chadrallen.com. He’s an editorial director at Baker Publishing Group. If you ever want to be published some day, read THIS!

On Tuesday’s post, I wrote about how small, seemingly inconsequential details can create a huge impact both positive and negative. What details are you missing in your writing life?

We all get to the point where we feel cannot go on with a project. I’ve been there and back a hundred times. Check out Wednesday’s blog that asks the question, Are you a Chronic Starter or a Steady Finisher?

Thursday, I celebrated my blog’s belated birthday. Happy four years Part-Time Novel!

On Friday I wrote about suspending disbelief and writing regardless of what others may think or say. Please check it out. I’m a bit bashful to write this, but I consider it the best post I’ve written in some time.

Saturday, it was all about the Jot Writers Conference. Check out the post wrapping up the week.

Come back tomorrow.

I have some great content and stories to share about the Jot Writers Conference.

Jot Is One Week From Today!

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If you’ve been following me long enough you know about the Jot Conference, even if you don’t live in the US or Michigan. It’s a one day free conference that celebrates the love of writing. It’s a place of encouragement and growth and connection.

This next Jot will be considerably smaller than the previous conferences because of the venue. But that does not mean it will be any less impactful to your writing career.

This Jot will be intimate and accessible. You’ll be able to interact with the presenters and encourage each other by sharing the mutual joy we have.

I hope you come with questions and are prepared to share during the breaks and after the presentations.

Great life happens in community.

I hope to see you there.

Sign up here!

Click here for location and time.

Worldbuilding 101 Part 1 – History & Myth – Where Worldbuilding Begins

At Jot 5 I’ll being doing a Workshop on Worldbuilding. If this sounds uber nerdy to you please head to the previous post or patiently wait for tomorrow’s. Today is for the nerds. Or is it?

My firm belief is that great stories, whether classic literature or commercial fantasy, all go through a world construction process. Authors call it many things – research, plotting, and the like but it is all the same. We are creating a believable world that beckons our readers. Galaxie_peinture

All stories start before stories begin. To be less confusing, en medias res is Latin for “in the middle of things” and it is a common phrase we writers know. The ship has already sailed, the orphan is already orphaned, the civil war lost, the argument over, and it is from this aftermath that we start.

Where would Harry be without the Death Eaters and their previous war with the Order of the Phoenix?

Where would Oliver Twist be without the unfortunate death of his forebears?

Exactly. The happenings before our story are essential.

History can bring shame or laziness to a people. It can also produce tenacity or vengeance. It is not a ripple effect but the exact opposite, sloshing toward and interacting with the center point of it all – our story, our people, and our characters.

Whether you are writing a myth like The Simarillion or something concrete with a litany of historical facts like a history book, this is where we begin the process of formulating the culture from which our hero, heroine, or anti-hero rises. It does not have to be intricately detailed but we must know what happened before it all.

If you are a writer of fantasy or science fiction please stay tuned. We’ll talk about maps next.

What are your thoughts on this?

How do you start to build your world?



Worldbuilding 101- Let’s Build a World Together

One of the best parts about living in a city with several bookstores and publishers is that there are a lot of readers and writers. I was connected with a group that loved to write and from our writers group the Wealkings Jot – the free one night writer’s conference, complete with presenters and workshops – was born.

Jot 5 is Friday, March 13th from 7-11pm follow this link for details.

Every time this event comes around I am equally thankful and thrilled that we have such a vibrant community of writers in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I get incredibly charged up (nearly bursting with energy, literally) and my well of creativity is filled to the brim and over.

This Jot I will be leading a workshop on Worldbuilding.World Building

For those of you unfamiliar with the term worldbuilding, it’s exactly like it sounds – laying a foundation for a story.

Worldbuilding is about the climate not the weather. It’s about your character’s clothes and why they dress a certain way. It’s the reason your character has his or her job, or why they don’t have one. It’s the history, the accents, and how their community came to be. It is different from a setting as it is constantly interacting with the characters that are traversing your pages.

For some, this might sound like a horrible nerdy topic but it’s essential to any work of fiction. If you do not know about the age, values, and traditions which reach deeply into the people we are creating, we lose the richness. It’s about depth and this vastness is essential to writing believable stories.

I plan on a micro introduction to worldbuilding and then working together with those who attend my workshop to build a world from the bottom up. I’m sure I’ll write more about this as Jot 5 gets closer but until then please save the date.