Because of electronic gadgets and the blandishments of television, the traditional market for fiction has been shrinking for years. At the same time, the number of aspiring writers has increased. The result is a pervasive, debilitating sense of frustration among talented writers. Their frustration is understandable. Many of them would have found a publisher 40 years ago.
Yes, there is an expanding market for self-published fiction on the web, made possible by print-on-demand publishers. But those outlets are not giving aspiring authors the recognition that they crave, not to mention the writers aren’t making any money. The most delicious feeling in the world is for an author to open the package containing his or her first published novel. It is so, so charming. Each published novel calls up that sublime rush of triumph.
Writer’s Groups and Circles
Are writer’s circles and groups any good? Published authors tend to be snobby about writers groups and circles, embracing unpublished authors with all enthusiasm once commanded by lepers. Once published, authors don’t need groups, so they avoid them. Among themselves, they mock writer’s groups as being sanctuaries for untalented wannabes. Yuck! Authors might also want to avoid the uncomfortable truth that they were likely lucky as all get-out to get published themselves; they too could be one of the eternally frustrated.
The advice that unpublished writers give one another is suspect, although some of it might be very good indeed. Nobody wants to hurt people’s feelings, so novice writers are sometimes deluded into thinking that they are doing right work when they are wildly off the mark.
So should you attend one? It probably doesn’t hurt, and they are likely good places to make friends with a shared interest in books and writing. It might be a way to meet someone with whom you can bed down. So give the published snobs a mental middle finger, and go for it. But you should never think that attending a writer’s group is a realistic step to getting published.
A Solitary Undertaking
Authors understand that writing fiction is an individual undertaking. You are solo, alone. The best advice? Do your best to set your insecurities aside and write what you think is good. When you think you’ve got it right, do your best to find an agent. This is the traditional, barbarous way to get published, but it is better than tacking this way, and that to the shifting winds of whatever person fancies himself or herself an expert on writing. You have to get right out there and accept the risk. If you fail, it is your failure. If you triumph, it is your triumph