I Need a Support Group (and Maybe You Do Too!)

I was scanning the inbox of my Hotmail account the other day, sMusical Noteped down the ‘subject’ lines of my emails and made an abrupt stop when I saw the words I’d been waiting months to see: “2016 Nicholas Schaffner Award.” My pulse quickened. My palms got clammy. I steeled myself.

Months earlier, I’d submitted my manuscript to the Schaffner Award for Music and Literature. The contest rules specify that the award would be given to the writer of an unpublished manuscript who submits a literary work in the English language–fiction, poetry, nonfiction–that deals with the subject of music. I thought my unpublished novel, which features an African drummer and has him performing in the story, would no doubt bubble to the top of the entries.

Last month, I got an electronic newsletter from the publisher, Tim Schaffner, stating that entries came in from 22 states in all genres–poetry, short fiction, novels, memoirs. “Due to the last-minute deluge of manuscripts, we will need to extend our award winner announcement until the end of February,” the newsletter read. Twenty-two states? I tried to do a quick calculation on how many entries that would be, how many manuscripts I’d have to beat out to win.

But then I got the email the other day. I thought it was a little early to hear from the contest again since the end of February was still weeks away. I soon found out why it was early. I took a deep breath and opened the email. It didn’t have the announcement of the winner of the contest. It had the names of the six finalists and MY NAME WAS NOT AMONG THEM!!!Retreat Manuscript

After I read the email, my husband found me in bed, which is uncharacteristic for me since it was only about 6:30 p.m. After my 9 to 5 I’m usually off to the gym for boxing class or indoor cycling with a little treadmill action and free weights topped off with 10-minutes on the rowing machine.

My husband sat down next to me on the bed. Our cat, Savannah, hopped on the bed too Cat blogand took a seat. We are her entertainment.

“I’m so sorry about this, Lisa. I know it’s disappointing,” Alex said. What can I do to help?”

I had an idea. I bolted upright. “I know,” I said. “You can read my manuscript again. Maybe there’s something in the writing that I missed. Maybe one of the characters needs to be tweaked.”

He said nothing. But I was fairly sure one of his eyelids was beginning to twitch. He read all 345 pages of my novel a few months ago. Maybe he wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of spending a few more weeks with my characters all over again. Maybe he was thinking about all of the heated “discussions” we’d had about the point of view I had chosen, the colloquialisms I employed, or the voice of the male characters.

“Maybe you can join a writer’s group,” he said finally. “That way you can talk to people who are going through the same things you’re going through. It’ll kind of be like a support group.”

So here I am at the main branch library waiting for the start of a writer’s group I found on meetup.com. I’ve gotten some support already. One member of the group emailed me the name of a book designed to help writers not give up hope in the face of rejection. I’ve never been part of a writing group. I’ll let you know what I think in an upcoming blog post.

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About lisabraxton

Lisa Braxton, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and her Master of Science degree in Journalism at Northwestern University. She is the immediate past president of the Women’s National Book Association/Boston Chapter and an Emmy-nominated journalist. She is a former television news anchor and reporter and spent her television career at stations in Champaign, Illinois, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Hartford, Connecticut. She is also a former newspaper reporter and radio reporter. She currently lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Lisa has been published in numerous literary journals, including Snake Nation Review, Foliate Oak, and Meetinghouse: A Journal of New England Fiction, Clockhouse Review, and Literary Brushstrokes.
This entry was posted in Coaching, Manuscript, Publishing, Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I Need a Support Group (and Maybe You Do Too!)

  1. Elizabeth Braxton says:

    Lisa, your blogs are so interesting. I’m happy that you are taking your husband’s suggestion to join a writers group. It’s great that you’ve already received some support from a member of the group that you are waiting to join.

  2. Deborah HBent says:

    Don’t give up Lisa, This group could be just what you need! I’m so glad Alex is being positive and supportive – that is a true blessing. We all need encouragement along the way – me too!

  3. Mary Lightfoot says:

    Lisa,

    Salespeople hear 100s of No action before there’s a yes. Keep positive.

  4. leslie nyman says:

    Reading this post I can relive my own similar experience, including the husband with the twitching eyes! Sadly, my experience with writers groups has not been satisfactory. I, however, am building up tougher skin to share my most recent manuscript around more widely among my literary friends. Between the friendly encouragement I have found reliable comments that help with edits and rewrites. I look forward to hearing more of your experience with your group!

    • leslie nyman says:

      don’t know why my first comment didn’t go. But, your post perfectly describes my experiences, including the husband with the twitching eyes! Good luck with the writers group and blog about what works best.

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