Kathryn Craft is the author of The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania literary scene, she loves any event that brings together readers, books, food and drink, and mentors other writers through workshops and writing retreats. A former dance critic, she has a bachelor’s in biology education and a master’s in health and physical education from Miami University in Ohio. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and spends her summers lakeside in northern New York State.
The Social World of Writing
by Kathryn Craft
Most think of writing as a lone pursuit. It is true that you must put in plenty of long hours on your own, dreaming up and shaping a story. The introvert within me adores this opportunity for deep focus. But beneath the same skin lives an extrovert who has found a way to lead a writing life that is remarkably social.
Let me count the ways.
- Writing organizations. Fifteen years ago, after drafting my first novel, I walked into my first writers’ group meeting to steep in the group’s storytelling mojo. Storytelling was a weakness in their programming, though. To align group goals with my own I accepted leadership positions, rolled up my sleeves, and initiated programs that brought me the high-quality mentors I sought—all while helping others. In time, my storytelling weakness became a strength and passion, which led me to start a developmental editing business in 2006.
- Informal groups. When lectures and workshops failed to sate my hunger to connect with other writers, I founded a program that encouraged local writers to compare dreams, cheer successes, analyze failures, and share resources. I liked the idea so much that when a similar program formed in a different community, that as a bonus offered no-holds-barred access to published authors, I attended that as well. And you know what? Those authors seemed a lot like me. Because they’d hung in there longer, they had valuable advice to share.
- Writing conferences. Writers who attend conferences have worked hard to figure out what their writing has to offer and are eager to talk about it to agents, editors—and other conferees. This aura of dedication, vulnerability, and nervous sharing can forge fast friendships as conferees cheer one another on. I love the vibe so much that for twelve years, in addition to sampling a handful of conferences across my state and country, I chaired two conferences and served on two different conference boards.
- Online writing groups. Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo Groups, group blogs, member-supported organizations—I belong to so many. But it is the groups committed to meeting in person that net the strongest relationships. Once frozen in airbrushed profile pics, faces animate and inspire with human imperfection; thoughts set in type morph and grow within dynamic discussions.
- My local independent bookstore. I go to any events I can to meet new authors. Period. I want to support the industry that I hope will support me.
- My neighborhood. After moving a few years ago, I attended my first social event—a baby shower at which I and a few other middle-aged women migrated toward the sushi tower—and walked away having started what became a supportive kaffeeklatsch of writers in my new community that saw me through many revisions of the memoir material that would become The Far End of Happy. A month later, a conversation at the gym resulted in an invitation to join the neighborhood book club as well, whose members have heartily supported (and discussed and debated) my first two novels.
- My grocery store. For several years I’ve met every Wednesday in the café of a local Wegman’s with a group of other women. We witness efforts as we tap on our computers all morning, and then solve problems and share tips over lunch. You can’t argue with the results: in the three years we’ve been together, four of us have gotten agents, six have published, and another got her MFA.
- My living room. If it weren’t for my winter Craftwriting workshops in PA and the summer writing retreats I host in NY, I would never force myself to devise writing prompts or write pieces based on them. The activity stretches me to think about craft anew and the array of creative results prompted never fails to impress: in this great wide world of writing, there is room for us all.
- My head. All of these interactions define my world. More than a “platform” or “network,” these are friendships that lift me up when I’m struggling, cheer me on when I taste success, advise me when I’m clueless, and spread the word when I have a new release. That’s invaluable. But my social writing world nurtures my relationships with the characters in my head who are crucial to the work of producing a novel.
Speaking of which, I think I hear them calling now…
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Book Giveaway Details:
One winner will be selected to win a copy of this fantastic book!
Including your email address, what did you like most from Kathryn’s post?
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I look forward to reading your comments!!
Giveaway ends: June 25, 2015.
**A Special thanks to Suzy Missirlian for connecting me with Kathryn Craft. Suzy and I share a lot of similar book interests, so I truly value the quality of authors and books she shares with me and others on social media. I’m excited for Kathryn Craft and the success of her novel, which I know will be a fantastic read this summer!!
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