Recently my husband and I moved one-hundred miles from the desert to the sea. We had lived in the desert for six years but ultimately found we are more suited to sea breezes than the blazing summer heat of Palm Springs. Though I won’t miss the heat, I will miss, probably more than anything else, the group of writers I connected with while living in the desert.
When I first began to write a novel, I didn’t attend classes to learn the craft. It was an impromptu effort brought about by the cabin fever I was suffering during one of those blazing hot summers. It wasn’t until a year later that a writer friend, who lives across the country, advised me to try a writers group. She explained that there is much to be gained from the exchange of ideas that occurs in such groups. I took her advice and joined a long-established large group of writers in the desert.
One of the sub-groups of the organization was comprised of about ten people who gathered twice a month to talk about writing, to share ideas, and to provide support. In the process, I learned a great deal about the craft. When I was finding it a challenge to differentiate between the characters in my second novel, other writers suggested that I give them physical characteristics that would help the reader recognize them–a beard, a unique speech pattern, poor posture, etc. Once I made the mistake of giving two of my characters first names that began with the same initial: Matt and Michael. A writer friend who read a draft suggested I give them names that start with different initials. That was a very astute suggestion. I have since noticed that I sometimes confuse characters in the books I read if they happen to have names that begin with the same initial. Another writer one time suggested that a helpful way to proofread one’s writing is to read material aloud. It is an excellent way to spot errors that might otherwise be overlooked. Moreover, it helps to assess the flow of sentences or the overuse of the same word.
After we settle into our new home, I will seek out a writers group to join. It is beneficial to have friends who write.