Sunday, September 3, 2017

I'd Like to Thank. . . by Victoria Chatham

Before I started taking my writing seriously, I thought I would just write a book and send it to a publisher who would either accept it or not. Ha. The innocence of ignorance. I had no idea back then that writing a book, if it’s going to be a good book, takes a village and then some.

In the beginning, my husband was my greatest supporter, simply because he believed more than I that I could be a published author. The reward for this blind faith was to be a red Ferrari with an eighteen-year old leggy blonde chauffeur when I made my millions. I agreed to the car, but not the blonde on the basis that the insurance would be way too expensive, millions or not.

It was an ongoing joke, but he gave me the time to write by taking care of grocery shopping (in all honesty he was much better at it than I), cooking, cleaning, and ferrying endless cups of tea to me in my writing den. He brought home a brochure one day advertising a writing group in our local community. I was hesitant about attending but he insisted and duly delivered me to the Alexandra Writers Centre Society door one evening. It was an eye-opener.

People often talking about their ‘tribe’, the group of like-minded people who whom they belong and at that first evening, I knew I had found my tribe. It was wonderful to talk to people who ‘got it’, that incredible ‘it’ that involves getting the voices in our heads out into the world one way or another. My husband, my now dear departed, bought me a typewriter and then my first computer.

When I started writing my first novel a freelance editor I happened to know asked if she could read it. I was so reluctant to let it go but, as my DD gently chided, if I never showed my work to anyone how would I know if it was ready for publication? That editor went through it with a fine tooth-comb, carefully explaining her reasons for picking on weak passages and plot holes that I wasn’t even aware existed.

At the same time, I took courses offered by the AWCS writers group as I still wasn’t entirely sure just what I wanted to write. Both my husband and my editor agreed I would do well writing historical fiction and, rather than feel ganged up on, I thought I might well give it a try as I loved Regency romance. Wanting to learn more about the romance genre, I joined the Calgary Association of Romance Writers of America and immediately felt at home.

Without CaRWA I might never have had the drive to aspire to actual publication. The quality of the authors, editors, and agents brought in for workshops helped me grow exponentially as a writer. Any question I had regarding the craft of writing was promptly answered, often by one of the many multi-published authors in the group.

I’ve heard people say that joining a group is the worst thing you could do. I know a couple of people who have not enjoyed the group experience at all. All I can say is that it worked, and continues to work, for me. It is from these writing groups that I have found my greatest support and my marvelous critique partners without whom my manuscripts would be peppered with repetition (oh, those first drafts) and wandering points of view. When they have worked their magic, my long-time and very good friend beta reads for me. 

And then, once my books are out in the world, I have to thank the readers who read, and I hope, enjoy them.

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