Although the current date is September 30, 2013, in this post I am writing about events that began to occur in the second quarter of this year, or five months in the past. As I mentioned in last month’s blog, I should be in real time by November 2013.
You will have to scroll back several entries on the “Another Blooming Novelist” site to find a small comment I made. It involved my instructor at the Loft, Kate Ledger, telling us to network, especially with other writers. My response at the time was “of course, that’s a no brainer”. Looking back I could have never imagined how fruitful and enjoyable this process would become. As previously mentioned, my little writer’s network had blossomed to four individuals: John Rogers, Therese Pautz, Dennis Kelly, and Bob Italia.
If my memory is correct, snow was still on the ground in Minneapolis in mid-April as I made my way to lunch with John Rogers. John, you may recall, was the first writer I met. We huddled inside the Crave restaurant against the abnormally cold weather and had a great time catching up. John updated me on the progress he had made on his book, which led to a discussion of writers groups. I asked him if he would mind providing me with some insight into these groups and before I got home there was an email with all the information.
By the end of April it was still unseasonable cold when I met Bob Italia, the most recent addition to my writer’s group, at Gianni’s in Wayzata for lunch. As I walked into the restaurant Bob thanked me for my assistance. He reminded me that after being so cautious about getting involved, he had inundated me in California wanting feedback about his book. I told him it was fun to critique his work and wasn’t a big deal. He rejected my response with a knowing smile and proceeded to cover lunch that day.
At the beginning of May our neighborhood had a collective garage sale and I met Peggy Keener, the fifth member of my informal writer’s group. Peggy and I were standing over a table of books for sale as I disclosed I was attempting to write. She went to her car and returned with a copy of her novel, Potato in a Rice Bowl. It is an intriguing autobiography about her experiences raising her family in China. I would recommend it highly. Peggy gave me several pointers and also suggested a great thesaurus.
I am not sure if it was the unseasonable weather that motivated me, but my writing definitely picked up since returning to Minnesota. My butt was spending more time in the chair and progress on my rough draft was accelerating. As May ended and the weather finally turned warmer, my writing approached the milestone of 100 pages.
In June I connected with Ken Ohlrogge, an acquaintance I had not seen in a long time. Ken’s daughter, Emily, attended school with our oldest daughter. It had to be close to 20 years since Ken and I had run into each other. We met, of course, at the Crave restaurant and caught up. I discovered Ken was writing a children’s book. Again by happenstance, another member was added to my informal writer’s group, which now numbered six. Ken asked me if I had ever attended meetings of the Minnesota Book Publishers. Responding in the negative, Ken sent me the schedules of their roundtables and tweet-ups. Three months from the date of our meeting, he and I attended a tweet-up. There I met a local editor who was interested enough in my story to suggest doing a critique.
My final networking story once again involves an inquiry by Bob Italia. He wanted to find out more about self-publishing. Since Therese Pautz had recently gone through this experience, the three of us met for coffee at Dunn Brothers in South Minneapolis. As I listened to the interchange between Bob and Therese, I continued to learn more about the process. They had both established domain names for existing or future websites. I had never given that any thought and realized I needed to explore how to establish my own names.
What has been amazing for me is that every writer, published or not, has without hesitation, offered their guidance and help. They ask for nothing in return except for the knowledge that they may have assisted me toward the completion of my goal. Their collective, selfless acts make a strong statement about the human condition. They have continued to give me support and encouragement. It emboldens me every day to resume getting my butt in the chair and write. Networking has been a part of the writing process that I definitely have found to be extremely enjoyable.
As June ended, I finally reached the first inflection point in the arch of my story. This is an event that impacts the characters causing them to struggle to resolve its consequences. I have had this scene in my head for a long time. It occurs on the Stone Arch Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. Elizabeth Crane, my female navy seal, is involved in chasing down a perpetrator along the banks of the river that ends in several surprises.