Anyone following my blog for long knows I’m adept at doing all sorts of writing that isn’t my book. Occasionally I focus and work on “the wolf book” (how I think of my work-in-progress), but I’m easily distracted by other bright-and-shiny writing options.
This blog is Exhibit A.
My emails and Facebook posts often become mini-stories. (Exhibits B and C.)
Then, there I was, jumping on the Kindle Vella train late last year, publishing “episodes” of Law-Law Land and now, Wild and Gentle Dogs. (Exhibits D and E).
I tell myself they’re all forms of writing practice. Perfecting my craft.
Sounds so reasonable, right? Noble, even.
But really, all those exhibits? They’re all just another form of procrastination, a skill I possess in spades.
Let me introduce you to my latest diversion (Exhibit F): On Writing.
Yeah, I know. How ironic.
But here’s the thing. I am, by nature and choice, living a solitary and isolated life in a rural setting. Add the pandemic, and the chances for getting good, in-person feedback on one’s work from other writers are slim to none.
I recently joined the Burlington Writers Workshop. They’re based in Vermont but anyone can join. More particularly, I joined their Creative Nonfiction group. They meet twice a month via video to discuss two submissions from members seeking feedback on their work-in-progress. All great. I’m enjoying it. Well, except that those twice-monthly video meetings are two hours long. That’s a bit much for this introvert. Exhausting, if I’m honest. And, it can be weeks or even months before your own submission is considered by the group and feedback provided.
I got to wondering if there was a better, faster way to get that feedback. Sometimes you just want other writers to help you with a paragraph, or offer suggestions for a title, so you can move on. Feedback, quick and easy.
I happened upon an article about a new platform for private groups. It’s called Geneva. It launched a year ago, and continues to evolve, but it seemed a good option for a writing group.
After some investigation, I decided to jump all in.
Because groups on Geneva are private, they don’t show up in online searches. One must be invited to visit and become a member of a Geneva group. That was a feature I liked. Members in On Writing can feel secure submitting something for feedback and comment, knowing only other member writers will see it.
I created and established the bones for On Writing on Geneva. I invited two friends to join the group and help me test the site’s features – chat room, video room, forum room. (The site refers to such spaces as rooms; the group’s site is referred to as a home.) They assured me it’s easily navigated and intuitive to use. I then invited two writing friends, and we’ve started sharing submissions for feedback, seeing how that works. So far, so good!
Of course, my writing focus is nonfiction. But I added rooms for fiction and poetry. I want to be inclusive.
On Writing is a work in progress. As administrator, I’ll manage members and rooms, adapting as we go along. One can use the site without downloading it to desktop or phone, but the experience is enhanced if you do.
So. If any of you reading this blog post are thinking, “Oh, I’d like to participate in that!” send me an email through my blog telling me why this interests you and what sort of writing you’re currently working on. I want all members to be actively working on a project, yet also willing to read and provide feedback to other members. No attention hogs tolerated! Think of On Writing as your neighborhood writing group reconfigured to accommodate our pandemic reality.
Bottom line: On Writing is a space to help us focus on and improve our writing.