Writing in Chicago, Chicago Writers
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Everybody's Coffee on Wilson Avenue, Chicago. This used to be one of
my Sunday writing hangouts,
When I moved back to Chicago in 2017, writing was not on my mind. The interests I pursued were theater, music, hockey, restaurants, and knitting. When I started using Meetup to find likeminded people, I searched for groups that liked to eat out, meet for cultural events, and knit.
But or some reason, none of them really stuck. Even before COVID, some had disappeared. I lost interest in others. And for a few, I never really found a connection. I had my family, a small circle of friends, travel, and plenty of opportunities to keep busy.
In July 2018, I thought about writing a novel. I took writing classes, I started to learn how to plot. Once I committed to writing, I decided to try a writing group. I participated in a few in Champaign at one time or another, but my pursuit of writing fiction was desultory at best. And by December I had a 96,000 word first draft of what has become At First Sight. And, silly me, I thought it was pretty good.
Before my latest foray into creative writing, all of my work was professional writing—my dissertation, journal articles, conference papers. I had enough published to be invited to a few conferences. I was occasionally cited in other people's work. If you look me up on Google, there are plenty of links.
Besides enjoying the process, what really propelled me was the community of writers I found, again through Meetup. I joined Just Write Chicago and Bluestem (now Wildflower) Women's Writing Circle. Not everyone writes novels. We have members who write blogs, poetry, nonfiction, school assignments. Just about any kind of writing is represented and we welcome everyone who just needs to make time and space to write. And while we meet virtually for now, writing with others in various coffeeshops around the city is one of the best things that happened to me.
I made friends, got encouragement, suggestions for membership in other organizations, classes, conferences, and plenty of advice. Along with Sisters in Crime Chicagoland Chapter, Mystery Writers of America Midwest, and Chicago-North Romance Writers, I have made valuable friendships and connections within my local writing community.
This year, all of that has really paid off. Not only is my book coming out in less than two weeks, but two of my writer friends have had their first novels published recently. Sharing experiences has helped all of us with writing and marketing.
Check out these new books by my writing pals, Hollie Smurthwaite and Margaret Larkin.
Click on the images below for links.