Yes, even as we enjoy and bustle through the holiday season, 2016 is already appearing on the horizon, challenging us with a new year of fresh possibility. And whether you’ve been a writer since 1951 or last Friday, you have the potential to improve and amaze yourself in the coming weeks and months.
365 days is a long time, provided each one finds you pushing yourself toward some new, greater goal. Maybe 2016 is the year you finish your first novel, see your work published, or get that dream job. The only absolute limits are those we impose on ourselves.
For myself, I’m looking to break into writing for dramatic television. Am I looking at long odds and hard work ahead of me? You bet. But as my sister Sarah, an artist, says ‘What matters isn’t that it’s hard, what matters is that it’s doable.’
And your dreams too, can become realities. So, once the Christmas tree comes down and the New Year’s Eve revelries are finished, once we’ve caught our breaths and cleared our minds, what will come whispering in your ear — what writing challenge is striving within your soul?
Whatever your goals are for next year, I hope the AWA can help. Membership is as simple and free as showing up at an event or asking to join. By design, we are a very loose, always transforming organization — it’s just more fun that way. We never fear change or challenge (okay, everyone fears those things, but we try to feel the fear and do it anyway 😉
One of the downsides of our wide-ranging approach is that all our members may not know everything we do. So here’s a short list of possible ways AWA can help you in the new year —
- Our monthly meeting. The last Sunday of every month finds a group of us coming together for a couple of hours of coffee and great conversation. Everyone gets a turn to share what they’ve been working on in the last month (only if they wish to). The group is always changing, newbies are welcome, and we end up having a wonderful time and talking about everything interesting under the sun. A great place to start your AWA adventures. Bonus: we’re all super-nice.
- Classes! Several times a time we offer free classes to encourage learning, discussion, and continued improvement in craft for our members. We have four classes scheduled for Winter/Spring 2016 — Gisela Hausmann: The Naked Truth About Getting Book Reviews; Dynamic Duos: Great Love Stories & Friendships; Self Publishing and Ebooks; A Work of HeART: Bringing Artistry to a Single Line. All levels of experience are welcomed and we often have handout sheets for extra educational value.
- Tuesday Writing/Critique Group. A wonderful and vibrant entity with its own independent vision and spirit. This group has been meeting for a couple of years now, and they are as close-knit and supportive a group as I’ve even seen. They recently published their first book —
- Read-ins. An exciting new event created by co-founder Jill Hartmann-Roberts. In Jill’s words, ‘You can read a short piece or just listen and enjoy. Feedback is optional, and you can ask for specific comments if you wish. This is ***not*** a critique group. We are here to appreciate the amazing writing of our peers in a relaxed, informal atmosphere.’ Everyone sits around a table, and it brings to mind many of the enjoyable aspects of reading in front of a crowd without it being nearly as stressful 😉
- Write-ins. Come and join other writers as we work on our writing projects. This is a great opportunity to get out of the house and away from the distractions of home to focus on your work while surrounded by other creative types.
- Critique groups. We currently have two full groups and a new group forming. Let us know if you’re seriously interested in join up — you’ll learn a lot.
- Have a personal page on our website. If you haven’t yet leapt into the deep end of the pool and built your own website but still want to direct people to your bio and web presence, join our Your Locals Authors section of this site. It’s free, though we may ask to meet you at an event first. Let the world know who you are, if you have books available, and how to find more of your witty writing online (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
- Public readings. OMG! There’s nothing like staring out at a packed room of people, all eyes on you, and reading your work to the world. And you CAN do it. The rewarding feeling of expanding your comfort zone is something you’ll always carry with you, and having people laugh, cry, and clap at your words is an incredible feeling. We haven’t done these recently because they take a lot of planning but we will resume them when there’s enough interested parties (or robotic event planners become cheaper).
- Self published collections. Pimpin’ Prompts is only the latest AWA-affiliated book to hit shelves. Also check out The Journey Home and Writers After Dark. We are planning on a humorous collection in the coming year and will have more details in time.
- Free Meetup.com group. Meetup.com can be expensive if you want to start your own group, but please feel free to post any events related to fun, friendship, health (hiking etc), creative inspiration (going together to see movies, music etc), and of course anything writing related (as long as it’s not just an advertisement — I reserve the right to take those down). Connect to your peeps and make new friends. I’d love people to use this page more often. Feel free — it’s your page!
- Mentoring. While not an official offering, you’ll find wonderful support and help from almost every member of AWA you meet. We all have different experiences and viewpoints to help you reach your goals, and we’ve all asked ourselves the questions running around in your brain (well, maybe not that one). I’m happy to answer any writing questions I can by email.
- A chance to gain experience in teaching classes, spearheading events, editing book collections… Seriously, this is a group that is all about each person becoming better because someone else is bold enough and excited and wants to share. So get in here and begin to see yourself as a teacher, a leader. You’ve got wonderful experience that no one else has and everyone needs to become the best writer they can be. And when you see what kind of mentor YOU can be, you’ll never think of yourself the same way again. I haven’t.
How to find more info: Check out the Upcoming Events link on this site, or join our free Meetup.com group — http://www.meetup.com/People-Who-Have-Come-Alive-Achieving-Your-Dreams-in-Athens. Join our Facebook page. And contact me, your founder, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in the Tuesday Writing/Critique Group; being part of our new critique group; teaching/editing/event planning; or if you have random writing questions.
The AWA is comprised of real writers, i.e. people who write a lot on the whole. That takes up time. Add in full time jobs and family responsibilities (not to mention the once-a-year dish washing) and we individually only have so much energy to plan events and grow the AWA in new and unexpected ways.
That’s where you come in. The AWA is a tool to allow you to connect, create, and improve yourself and your writing — one day at a time. It’s full of the nicest people you’ll ever meet but we’ve saved a seat, right in middle, for you. So come join us, and make 2016 your best, most exciting year of writing yet.