By PJ Colando
The November 2012 National Novel Writing Month — abbreviated to NaNoWriMo — began like all others since the internet-based creative project was initiated. Several writers congregated at Panera Bread, Lake Forest where wifi was free, though the tea and noshes were not. Fast fingers and fervent eyes on their laptops, some with ear buds to increase the signal of their focused, do-not-interrupt demeanor, they wrote and wrote and wrote.
At first it was furtive glances, then a chair scraped as someone got up to order refreshment or go to the restroom. Then someone spoke into the side-of-the-restaurant space, posing a writing question. Another someone answered—and a community of writers sparked.
The O.C. Writers Network is a virtual community, one that is populated by published and emerging writers who live in the LA-OC-SD area. It’s also a thriving live community because several meet-ups are hosted, each with a personality of its own:
- There’s the “shut up and write” type
- There’s the convivial chat type
- There’s one near you. Check out the Meetup page for days, times and locations
- There are FB announcements that urge you to join a timed Writing Sprint in the privacy and comfort of your own home (read: the writers who may/may not be pantsers, but know they don’t have to apply makeup, fix their hair or wear pants when they write at home)
The members have ambitions—all personal, some communal—but there are no agendas. The community is dedicated to craft and mutual support. Generosity reigns.
While one might suspect an inclination among writers to bogart their work, to fear prying eyes, plagiarism, and/or intellectual property infringement, I’ve never experienced it here…though there was that one guy who clogged a group’s session with his rapid-fire narcissistic issues, most louts are curbed. No room for boors when others want to learn, grow, and share. No arrogant air allowed.
A great example is the “PLAN, PLOT, POLISH, PUBLISH” seminar provided free (yes, free) at the Katie Wheeler Library. (13109 Old Myford Road, Irvine, CA 92602, near the Irvine Marketplace, which has many places to dine and shop nearby. In the OC we must multi-task to make the $3/ga gas expenditure apropos).
This free series, presented by a trio of O.C. Writer members, is among the most vibrant, compelling workshops that I have attended in the six years since I started to write. Authors Greta Boris, Valerie Davisson, and Joe DeLadurantey are clearly committed to nourishing the writing spirits and skills of others. A subtitle of the seminars could be “Mentors with Momentum”.
The three tag-teamed efficiently and effectively with great verve, great content, great conviction.
I chose the final word for the trio of accolades because Joe is a former cop. He will be writing a crime fact-check type column for this online magazine. Stay tuned.
There were multi-page handouts. There were clear, thorough, complete explanations. Some hard-won lessons and experiences shared. There was time for questions: well-asked and answered. Loads of truth told: worth and mirth combined.
The last segment of this seminar series is Wednesday, August 10, 6:00 – 8:00. Twenty-thirty newbies attend; even some older hacks like me. Even if you think you know, you’ll learn a lot. You’ll leave re-committed, informed, and enthused.
It’s all good: it’s free. Join O.C. Writers.
For those of you who have been with the group for awhile, what have been your favorite events? For those who are new, what are you looking forward to attending?
Tell us in the comments!
PJ Colando writes Americana fiction, humorous, cautionary satire. It’s her elegant hobby, a creative pastime that beats piss-and-vinegar politics. A sequel to her debut novel, STASHES, in the Jackie and Steve Breeden saga, HASHES & BASHES, will be published soon. Visit her website at www.pjcolando.com.
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