"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

7 Surprises in Joining the Group (by newbie, Ben)

Being the new guy in this group, I'm still trying to figure out what the heck a dangling participle is. And I'm wondering if I can start a sentence with the word "And." In other words, I'm not about to blog about how to improve your writing. Instead, as we all find ourselves in the age of Top Ten Lists, Bullet Points, and Bottom Lines, let me just mention the seven most surprising things about participating in this group--from one newbie's perspective:

Members are accomplished. Not sure why this surprised me. I guess I just think of spuds, snowmobiling, hunting, and site engineers--but not published writers--when I think of East Idaho.

Members are down to earth. Another mistake on my part: I imagined a bunch of Grammarians looking down their noses at one another trying to one-up each other with their technical knowledge and expansive vocabulary. Instead, I found all the members to be very warm, welcoming, and totally human.

Focus is on art over science. It seems the content--the story and the readers experience-- comes first! All the grammatical rules are important but secondary to the writer's creativity.

Writing process is messy--and that's OK! I'd always imagined great writers sitting down and just cranking something out. Turns out, even GREAT authors just get stuff out on paper first. Then write, re-write, and re-write again. I'm learning to just be ok with it being a little messy to start with. It's like writing is more of a process than an event.

Honesty is everything. It has been a great surprise to see how open and honest all the members are with each other, and with themselves. It's almost like every member sets their egos, fears, and assumptions aside when it's time to critique each other's work. I haven't heard even one "Yeah, but..." Everyone is so open to the opinions of others. It seems everyone is focused on helping each other write--and write well!

Members have diverse interests: Thrillers, Romance, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, Westerns, etc. The surprising thing is that by reading/critiquing different genres outside of what might normally interest a writer, his own writing improves.

The hard work gets done! It seems participating in a writers group like this helps break up the hard work into more manageable bites (so to speak). Each member wants to make progress before the next month's meeting. Before joining the group, every time I'd try to write, I'd write a couple of chapters and get stuck. Now, I'm always pushing to the next chapter!

Before I sign out, let me just mention one more surprise; it's FUN! I imagine this is because the people in the group are just plain cool. It seems everyone has a good sense of humor and it shows.

Well, next time I blog on this site, I hope to be able to report back on what the heck a dangling participle is. But more than that, I'm excited about the possibility of actually having created something that gives a reader a great experience. If I can pull something like that off, I'll owe it--in no small part--to the great members of the Blue Sage Writers group. You all ROCK! Happy Writing.

--Ben Page

Ben's life has been one full of adventure. He's traveled the globe and immersed himself in other languages and cultures. He's been a farm laborer, dish washer, ski bum, clerk, missionary, econ and philosophy major, resident staff for troubled teens, and a salesman. He's started several companies, one of which has received national attention for its success. Now, when he's not working on his business, serving other small business owners, or spending time with his family - he's writing articles, blogging, or working on his current project; a book on how to really market to the U.S.'s Spanish Speaking demographic.


  1. Greetings, Ben:

    We've never formally met; I'm one of the members of this group from afar. I left Idaho last July. I just want to say I concur with your thoughts. You have joined a great group; professionals to the last woman--and man. I'm sure you'll have a great time, and will learn a great deal, I know I have.

    Bill C.

  2. Thanks for the post, Ben. We're all very happy to have you in the group!

  3. Awwww gosh, now I miss the group even more and I was already homesick. They are a great group, aren't they?

    Around 26 years ago I went to a Writer's League meeting and two young ladies, Karen Finnigan and Sherry Roseberry, made an announcement that a new writer's group was starting up and anyone interested in joining it could meet with them at the library the next Saturday. I showed up and the rest is history. The name has changed and there are new people but Linda, Sherry, Karen and I are still here from the original group.

    Sometimes I wish I could go back to the good old days of going to Boise to meet, meeting half way in Twin Falls, and going to writer's conferences all over the U.S. It was so fun.

    Maxine McCoy

  4. Ben, Excited you decided to join our ecclectic group. You make us sound fantastic. I want to hire you to be our PR man. Can't wait to meet you in March. I'm Sue Anne the one who kills people on paper. Very theraputic! I was going to comment on Richards blog but everytime I look at the pictures he posted I get carried away and forget where I am. It's great to live vicariously through my friends.

  5. Boy, Ben, did we fool you! :D Well, not really. What you see is what you get. I love this group, my writing family. Several of us have been together a long time, trying to survive this writing racket. You fit right in. Glad you joined the group!