The Secret Room OR Who You Write With

21 May

When I first started writing everyone I met talked about their CP (critique partner) and how they were so great and saved their writing and kept them sane and fixed the small things and held their hand and every other great thing you need when starting this crazy writing journey.

I looked everywhere I went for one of these groups or just that one person. A few horrible matches later, someone said, why don’t you try Romance Divas. There I met several other newer writers who wrote in a chat room. We were great together. Without telling you the long story, the group became known as the FlanTastics and everything was good in the world.

Then came in influx of newer writers to the chat room. This isn’t a bad thing. It keeps things fresh. But things changed overnight almost. It wasn’t  a group looking to join, it was a group who wanted to do things a new way — a way that worked great for them.

There was drama. I felt beat up. I left the site completely only keeping my friends I”d met along the way (which, granted were a whole darn bunch of amazing women…seriously, the number is not small).

It didn’t take very long to miss the writing room and my writing group. So, we created a new room and started writing in there. We’re very protective of the room. There will be NO drama in the room. There will be no general admittance to the room. There will be no R rated posting in the room. There will be no stupidity in the room. There will be no take-over-ness in the room. Only people we’re used to, comfortable with, have worked with in some capacity and we know that they’ll work well with the others of our very specific group already in there even get considered to come work with us.

I have one person I had to ask to stop doing something or not come. Yes, I did that. But, in all cases, the room is save the cheerleader, save the world — I mean, protect the group, protect the writing.

But, we do talk about the room. The Secret Room isn’t a … um, secret. We talk about it on twitter, we call each other out publicly if there’s been no writing lately, we make sure people are knowledgable about who comes in when to write.

But here’s the weird thing, when we talk about our writing group, people assume that it’s a free for all. We’ve had people somehow track down the group and just enter the room. Honestly, once I didn’t even know the person. When I finally asked her who she was she said, Oh, I lurk on twitter and I thought this would be a great place to write so I tracked you guys down.


Last night, I said something about the Secret Room and TWELVE people said they’d like to join us. The comments ranged from polite “is that an open room” to pushier “why haven’t you given me that link” — I just tweeted a general tweet explaining that it was my writing group, not an open group.

I got one apology, one ‘oh, well then…’ not quite apology, 3 snarks, and 1 pissed off DM from someone I then blocked.

Guys, I understand we all want to find a good group. I understand I know a TON of people on twitter. I also understand that twitter makes everyone feel accessible.

We’re not. You’re not either (protect your writing too). There’s a group of unpublished/unagented YA writers that I’d LOVE to be invited to and kind of hinted at that and was shot down. It was done nicely and couched in “oh, but your agented and a GH finalist, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to waste your time with us” — but it was still a shoot down. I know where they meet. What would happen if I drove over there and just showed up in person?

You’d all call me a stalker.

The virtual world is the same as the real world. Unfortunately, we don’t get to go to all the places we want.

Now, I can hear the “that’s not fairs” (which I got one of also) and the You’re being snobby and the Does this mean she doesn’t like me’s…

I’m going to say a couple harsh things here and I’m typically not a harsh speaker.

  1. It isn’t about you. It’s about me/us and our writing. We’ve been burnt, that’s why we went rogue.
  2. You can go rogue too.
  3. There’s nothing wrong with asking for an invite to writer’s events:
    1. ASK being the operative word
    2. Graciously accepting whatever the answer is makes you look… um, gracious
  4. Writing groups have zero to do with liking people. I have tons of people I adore that I wouldn’t let near my writing or writing group.
  5. If you’re pushy, that’s going to not be a good sign. See #3

So, basically, I felt horrible last night protecting the room. I thought “oh, should I stop talking with my writing group publicly? Do I need to lock down my twitter account and unfollow people so I can have a friend-to-friend conversation? Am I just going to have to play the bad guy all the time?

But then I realized — we all go through this. Check out how this blog post started. It started with my search for the perfect group… actually for ANY group. I got turned away politely so many times. Lot’s of groups are full, or run so well they don’t want to change. This makes PERFECT SENSE.

PROTECT THE GROUP/PROTECT THE WRITING – all of us, every day, every time. Yes, that means you too.  Protect (find) your group/Protect your writing.

Oh, and the other thing we learned, Yes, I do have the chutzpah to block someone. I didn’t think I did. BWAAHHHAAAA


14 Responses to “The Secret Room OR Who You Write With”

  1. J. W. Hankins May 21, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Great post! I defiantly know what you mean. You must protect the integrity of your group or it’ll become useless and “fun-less”. Most groups in general are not for all. Been like that since the dawn of time.

  2. briaq May 21, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks! Actually, that’s one of the things I LOVE about twitter – it’s a free-for-all where I get to hang with everyone. People I couldn’t write with and people who wouldn’t let me within 10-vitural-feet of their stuff. But, on twitter we all get to hang.

    It’s kind of like being on a chorus trip (yeah, i’m going there) – of course the whole group gets along great and we travel well together, but at the end of the day, when we step on that stage, I sang with the altos…. Ok, enough nerdy-girl references 😉

  3. J. W. Hankins May 21, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    LMAO! Nerdy-Girl Reference understood!

  4. Rachel Firasek May 21, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I love this. I was probably one of those from a bit ago that snuck into the fd chats, but your group is amazing and you must protect at all costs. Don’t apologize, it’s not about being popular, it’s about being proactive.

  5. Jess May 21, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    This makes perfect sense… I hope some of the snarkier comments were supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, maybe? I’d love to find a group of people to write with. I have several friends I bounce off of, some of whom are part of a group themselves, but I’m not. My various people don’t mesh into one group. I’d still love to find one, but I love the folks I’ve got, too.

  6. briaq May 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    That was one strong lesson I had to learn — sometimes non-groups worked better. The people who I crit and who crit me don’t even call each other CPs, but they’re my first go-to people. We’re not a group – we’re all friends, but we’re not a “writing group”

    Each group is different and is used differently.

    Also, someone just tweeted me: If everyone on twitter was in your writing group, it would just be twitter… LOL

  7. Kat Cantrell May 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    The thing I love about you most is you do everything with purpose. You make decisions based on solid reasoning. A lot of people don’t. They just jump and assume everyone else does too.

    I was just talking with DH today about people trying to find the right group (in relation to cycling, not writing, but still the same) and I said – “It’s all about the goals. You have to be in a group with the same goalness.” And yes, I claim that word. 🙂 I think you get what I mean…

  8. briaq May 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Actually Kat, I think it’s GOALINESS… with the “I” in there *snort*

    Thanks 😉

  9. briaq May 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Rachel~ I just found you in spam. HOW DARE WORDPRESS SPAM YOU!

    I do love our group. I love writing with our group. But I love twitter too. And I pretty much adore everyone I tweet with on twitter… yup, it’s a big number, but they’re different things. I use them differently 🙂

  10. December May 22, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    This makes perfect sense to me.
    I think everyone wants to be part of the “in” crowd.
    Or at least have their own place to call home.
    Someday I’ll find my Home Base, my Cheers, where everybody knows my name. ’till then, I’ll keep bouncing from CP to CP.

  11. briaq May 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    NODS and you know what? My perfect CP is no longer. Life and stuff took her off to other worlds. So, even a good thing shifts sometimes.

  12. Terri Osburn May 23, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    When you mentioned this on Twitter, I thought it was a hashtag for a group conversation, which is the only reason I jokingly asked. LOL! I hope I didn’t offend, I know I wasn’t offended. Dude, this CP stuff is tough. I’ve been through it and now I’ve learned I’m not a CP person. I have one friend who will read scenes when I ask, but more for the “That’s great!” cheerleading.

    Kudos to you and your group for protecting something special. It’s clearly working for you. 🙂

  13. briaq May 24, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    LOL Terri – You didn’t get DMd or Blocked you’re pretty much safe!!! Seriously, I’ll never spill who that person that was blocked was, but, um, wow. I figured it was time to explain and set some stuff out there for the pushy people… when I say pushy I mean, “Can I park the bulldozer somewhere for you?” pushy!

    Yeah, not everyone is made for CP land. My mentor has NEVER had a CP. I’m blown away by that. I’m the flipside. I never would have made it through book one with out one. It all goes back to what works for you…. never let anyone damage what works for you.

  14. Sharon May 25, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    It’s good to know that writing isn’t such a solitary experience. Good luck with your books!

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