Three writers walk into a bar.
No, it’s not a joke. It’s my old writer’s group in Boston. There were actually more than three of us, but we did meet in bars. It was a rotating crew. Some writers moved out of the city, or got too busy, while other writers pulled up a bar stool. The range of experience went from new writers to those with MFAs.
Even more diverse were our writing choices. John worked on an epic science fiction saga. Tom wrote raw short stories. Brian wrote quirky genre-defying stories that often involved a character raising his fist at the sky. Liz mixed in some nonfiction, including a piece on self-flushing toilets. While I started out working on literary fiction for adults, I decided to try writing for young adults while a part of the group.
|Tom, me, and my husband, Nathan, at our annual writing group Festivus party in 2005.|
The mix of genres and audiences was extraordinarily helpful as it forced each of us to look at the craft in the new way. Admittedly some were a little hesitant when I shifted to YA, afraid they wouldn’t be able to offer useful advice to someone writing for young people. What we quickly realized, though, was that the elements of good writing are the same, no matter your genre or audience: story, character, setting, voice.
When I moved to Maine, leaving the writing group was one of my biggest losses. It was shortly after my move that I sold my first book, Secrets of Truth & Beauty. When I emailed the group to share the news, I suggested they should all move to Maine, and they, too, would be published. Unfortunately member Kate Racculia foiled that plan when she sold her first novel a few months later. Her second book, The Bellweather Rhapsody is out later this year. Pitched as being a mix of Heathers, Glee, and The Westing Game it promises to be the perfect adult book for lovers of kid lit.
Since moving to Maine I’ve found a community of other kid lit writers with whom I share triumphs, swap reviews, and commiserate over the rough times, but I still think of that group in Boston as my writer’s group.