Writing & Finding Community
When anyone asks ‘So, was Anushi always a writer?’ My mom wrinkles her forehead and answers, “Uh…she used to write a lot of cards to her friends in school.’ (Thanks, Mom...you are right, card writing was the onset of my *unique* path to writing!)
To be honest, my mom wasn’t wrong. I really never considered writing as a career opportunity, because, well, I read The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy when I was sixteen. And, that’s when I decided writers are from a different universe.
About a decade later, I started telling my daughter stories (quite unlike Mrs. Roy’s) which prompted my husband to say “Why don’t you write books?”
Hmm.. not a bad idea.
Of course quite quickly, I realised being a writer is basically synonymous to treating yourself to a lifetime of rejection and dejection.
The single thing that has kept me going is not playing with the written word, but rather my ‘pen-pals’. Of whom, mind you, I have met none. About as often as I was told to have thick skin, I was also told to join *”critique groups”.
As soon as I joined a critique group, I kind of got addicted. Whoever thinks writing is a solitary journey is so wrong. My critique partners are my friends, confidants, shoulders to cry on and the ones who cheer me on every step of the way.
I am part of a Picture Book Critique Group and I co-founded a Chapter Book and Middle-Grade Critique Group. I am so incredibly pleased to have met some friends who I would easily call my 3am friends (let’s not get into time-differences). I am particularly amazed to see how #MGWaves has grown! It started off as a tweet I posted during Pitch Wars, now we are a group of 31 writers who support each other.
So, anyone contemplating whether they want to suffer a lifetime of failure and suffering...you’ve got a friend in me!
Middle-Grade Novels I read in 2020
This is the first year that I really considered writing Middle-Grade. Above you can see a graphic of all the MG that I read over the last six month - it is really hard to pick a favorite!
If you click on the author's name below - you will be directed to their webpage and you can read more about the books!
The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman
When You Trap A Tiger by Tae Keller
Kick by Mitch Johnson
Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary Schmidt
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
Amina's Voice by Hena Khan
RESOURCES I LOVE
The boards, lists and cards on Trello help me organize my research, photos, inspiration and lightbulb moments in one place. I have just started using it, but I am really enjoying it. It gives me all my information in one place. I used to make handwritten spiderwebs with ideas, but inevitably the next time I would look from my work, it would be nowhere to be found. Trello makes sure I don’t have to worry about losing my work!
I have various folders on the drive. Some are shared folders that all my critique partners have access to - we upload our submissions, research and critiques here. Other folders are just for me to access where I store all my work in progress.
Slack is free platform, until you have x amount of posts (which #MGWaves is close to reaching- yikes). Initially we had a private group on Twitter, but it became harder and harder to keep track of the amazing resources, thoughts and debates. We decided to move to Slack and we have multiple channels on everything from marketing to brainstorming to pity parties :).
This a group of almost 750 picture book writers with a wonderfully supportive private forum. I absolutely love the webinars, Julie and her team bring in some of the most established writers within the picture book field. It is great to get my questions answered by these well-regarded writers. I also found my picture book group critique group through 12x12 :).
Oh, and watch out because each of these MG ripples is going to take the world by storm!
One of the best things about our community is the resources we share. Be sure to check out every wave's link to collect valuable resources and tips along the way!
Susan Leigh Needham