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.