Women of Words WordWomenFeature: How five became a hundred
" WOW women willingly share the victories of their writing - and just as readily share their mistakes." - Connie Anderson
by Connie Anderson
In 1997, five women met around a kitchen table for lunch, but more importantly, to talk about their work as writers. They were writing books about business, poetry, their lives or their passions.
The women became friends and strong support for one other. Soon, one asked if she could bring a writer friend to the group - and then so did others. Quickly, this small-but-growing self-managed group decided to move its monthly meetings to a restaurant. Each visitor brought new life and a new story. You could see the kinship reverberate throughout this new sisterhood.
Such was the modest beginning of our writers group that eventually became WOW - Women of Words. "Wow!" is what we often shout when we hear a great story or idea. WOW women willingly share the victories of their writing - and just as readily share their mistakes, with the belief that we help each other most with our honesty.
We're supportive, but not suffocating; we're caring, but we understand that this is not the focus of the gathering.
Rule No. 1: We do not talk about personal issues, period, unless they are pertinent to our work. We don't talk about husbands, exes or kids unless we are writing about them. Rule No. 2: We listen, but never judge, offering our thoughts only when, and if, relevant.
Time management became essential as the group grew. Each woman takes three minutes to tell us about her project, ask questions of the group, and seek help with contacts or ideas.
Most of the women already have been, or will be, independently publishing their books. At one time or another, we all have had the dream that an agent will fall in love with our book, find us a publisher and get us a huge advance payment - but then reality sets in. Mostly, we write, publish, sell and market our stories - and then we bask in the glory of telling our stories to others.
We read one another's books, writing and posting reviews. When one woman said she had stage fright and asked for ideas, contacts or individual help, within an hour, eight people told their own stage-fright stories and shared via our closed Facebook page how they overcame their fears.
From the initial five women, our invitation list grew to more than 40 names, and more were asking to join. A second group was started, and within 18 months, more than 40 women joined WOW2. Now there is a third group, and our numbers are capped at more than 100 members.
Inevitably, the right women attend, the right people feel comfortable sharing their issues - and the right women reach out to help their sisters.
It is my honor to facilitate the first two groups. I revel in the feeling that "this was the best lunch group ever," which I say, without fail, twice a month, every month, after both the WOW and WOW2 meetings.
WOW truly is the "village" that helps turn writers into authors - all hundred of us.
Connie Anderson is the author of two books published in 2013: "In My Next Life I Want to be My Dog" and "When Polio Came Home: How Ordinary People Overcame Extraordinary Challenges." She lives in Bloomington.