Until six years ago, I was a dabbler, never taking my writing seriously. Winter of 2005, I got the bug. Bad. When I finished that first (and probably last) novel two years later, I found I had a second job, so engrained had the daily writing schedule become.
To spur me on, I started attending the Saturday morning critique group at Title Wave, took a creative writing course at UAA. Mostly though, it was just me at the kitchen table, early hours each morning, burning through coffee, reams of paper, churning out short stories.
This was fine for a while, but it got lonely. I needed writerly company.
At some point, not sure when, I began hearing about this new group, 49 Writers. I dipped my toes in the water, attended a couple events. I remember thinking, “This group is for real writers, something I’m not,” and just as quickly, “if I’m not a real writer, how about all those hours banging away at the kitchen table? Get over it.”
I dove in, going to the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat in 2010 taught by David Vann. Boy, did that fit the bill: David dismantled works of fiction and in reassembling them gave us a new tool set. I felt like my head was going to explode and I fell all over myself thanking Deb and Andromeda for putting the weekend together, for being the catalyst that brought the community of Alaska writers together.
That community has helped deepen my conviction to write, has provided me with opportunities to hone my craft, and has given me the confidence to put myself forward as a writer. A real one, at that. A happy artifact of all this: two short stories published in literary journals last year, and, I just found out, another soon to be.
When I filled out the volunteer form on the 49 Writers website, I received a response right away. Now I’m up to my eyeballs but happy to be doing my part. I’m maintaining the website and promoting events on Facebook. I’m coordinating the Reading and Craft Talk Series and on the fundraising team for the upcoming Writeathon.
It’s an exciting time at 49 Writers: so much going on, so many opportunities to challenge yourself and to grow. I encourage you to go to the website, become a member, fill out the volunteer form. Dive in. The water’s fine.