What SCWW Means to Me by David Burnsworth

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I’ve been an active SCWW member since 2007 when my wife found out about the organization.  She was also responsible for motivating me to sit down and write in the first place, so this is all her fault.  The fact that SCWW is such a great organization ices the cake.  It has helped many writers during their journey to publication, and has certainly helped me in mine.

Showing up with a half-baked story and characters so cliché they could have walked out of any number of books or TV shows, I presented the Greenville Chapter with the usual challenges.  It took quite a while to reign in my adverbs, activate my passive verbs, and find the beginning of the story, which turned out not to be forty pages before the action started.  The chapter members, past and present, deserve a very large patience award because I’m quite certain I tried theirs often.

Regardless of where writers place themselves on the path to seeing their work published, SCWW is there to help.  The critique groups I’ve been a part of are the best places to put the writing out there for feedback.  Sometimes the groups love the material, other times not so much.  If the writer goes in with the attitude that they will learn something and it’s not personal, they win every time.  I can think of several instances where someone in the group found what appeared on the surface to be a minor nit that turned into a major issue if it had gone straight to the presses.

The past SCWW conferences in Myrtle Beach I’ve attended (2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012) all helped me add skills to my toolbox that have helped along the way such as what to say in a query letter, how to write a synopsis, and what an elevator pitch is.  People at the top of their game in the business come to these events and share their own stories and writers get advice from these insiders.  Direct response on what needs to be fixed in a manuscript is always better than a canned rejection letter with no reason.  Plus, the face to face time paves the way for networking and a contact down the road.

Through SCWW, I also learned how to handle the inevitable rejection.  A lot could be written about rejection. Entire blogs have been dedicated to it.  I’ve got my own stack of letters that almost ended up in the burn pile.  I am, however, thankful I kept them.  They made the letter that extended the offer of a contract that much sweeter.  Now, when I come across the file they reside in, I realize why my wife talked about persistence so much.  She was right. After years of typing, several different protagonists, and six drafts, my debut mystery, Southern Heat, comes out this month.  Thank you, SCWW.  I would not have gotten here without you.

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4 Responses to What SCWW Means to Me by David Burnsworth

  1. So true David. We have a wonderful group of writer’s in SCWW with varying writing skills and multiple genres represented. Yet, somehow we all fit together like a close writing family – encouraging, giving respect, and building confidences.

    My first published piece outside of college work was in The Petigru Review and I know that my local chapter contributed to my early success. They gave me the confidence that I desperately needed.

    And David, you truly do have a wonderful novel and I look forward to reading it front to back instead of in pieces. I’ve no doubt Southern Heat is only the first on a huge list of successful works.

  2. David, you never tried my patience. I loved watching your writing transform over the years and always looked forward to the pages you brought to be critiqued.

  3. We always liked the fact that David took our advice and learned from it.

  4. Valerie Norris says:

    Couldn’t be happier or prouder of your success, David, and I, too, am looking forward to your debut novel of Southern Heat. A signed copy will go on my shelf of honor, along with the other novels of our chapter members. SCWW, and the Greenville Chapter in particular, are key components of the success of many of our members. But the group can’t critique something that hasn’t been written. You worked very hard to bring that novel to publication, and that’s an inspiration to all of us who are still waiting for a novel sale. Congratulations!

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