An ode to the Inklings (of Central Florida)

I had a great afternoon with my writing group today. We’ve dubbed ourselves the Central Florida Inklings, modeled, as our website says, “after the Oxford University group that was once home to literary greats like J. R. R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, and other authors with initials,” and we meet just about every Sunday to write and/or talk about writing.

One of the things I love about this group is how supportive we all are of each other. I happily share my successes with them because their feedback and support has been so valuable in getting my novel into the shape it is. And I’m so incredibly thankful for them.

But what I think I appreciate the most is that they, as fellow writers, get it. They understand when I’m frustrated because I can’t figure out how to get a character from Point A to Point B, and they know how it feels to have an idea that excites you like crazy. They aren’t afraid to tell me, “I think [character] would react bigger to that situation,” or, “This part bothers me because it just doesn’t feel true.” And they aren’t offended when I provide feedback like, “I loved this but have no idea what your main character looks like,”  or, “This part just seems really slow, especially compared to the pacing that comes later.”

Writing is a subjective business. If you really want to be a great writer, you can’t afford to be sensitive or defensive about your writing. You can’t afford to be too attached to your words, your settings, or even your characters. You have to be willing to listen to the feedback, really listen, and embrace the spirit of what they’re telling you to go back and make it great.

The thing is, that’s something that my writer friends get but my non-writer friends – no, my non-artist friends – well, they don’t quite understand it. If I ask them to read something and critique it, they’ll tell me, “Oh, I really liked it!” or “That was really good!” And I just feel like screaming at them. What did you like about it? How was it really good? Did you connect with the characters? Do you have a crush on Tim? (Everyone has a crush on Tim.)

So, yes. I’m eternally grateful to my fellow Inklings, if for nothing else than for being a group that understands me. I truly believe my work is better because I am among them.

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6 comments

    • E.M.

      Tim is, like, the commonality among all my beta readers. I think my niece is the only one who didn’t comment on him! Everyone has a crush on him. It’s kind of making it difficult for the love interest of Book 2, but I think I’ll be able to manage it. LOL

      • arbliss

        I love to fall for a character in a book. In fact, I almost left my husband for the hero of my story. It was dicey for a while, but I ended up keeping hubby. For now. *grin*

  1. Jeremy Johnson

    How interesting! A pleasure to meet your acquaintance. I am a New Yorker who is headed down to live in Central Florida for a while (Orlando… Winter Park). It would be great to meet you group at some point, if you welcome newcomers, that is! I’ve had the intention to meet Floridian writers once I get down there. At any rate, nice choice for a group name! The Inklings are a big inspiration of mine in many ways: philosophically, religiously, and most of all creatively.

    • E.M.

      Greetings, Jeremy! You are, of course, welcome to join our tiny writing group whenever you make it down to sunny (though it’s really usually partly cloudy) Central Florida! We are a rather eclectic group, but we enjoy having new members join us, even if its just for the occasional meeting here and there!

      Do keep in touch and let me know when you arrive and/or feel like joining us for a spell!

      • Jeremy Johnson

        Sounds great, will do! In the meanwhile I’ll dig into your blog posts. Would be wonderful to learn a thing or two about the writing process and publishing. I’ve spent the last two years in a heady, academic space. Only now getting back to my passion of creative writing. Will be sure to drop you a line once I’m thawed-out and cozy in Orlando!

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