Monday, August 29, 2005

How the Erotic Readers and Writers Association Storytime list helps me to write

Those of us who continue to write, despite the time it takes away from other people and other things, mostly do so because not to write deprives us of something we need. It lessens who we are and diminishes our ability to become who we desire to be.

But writing can be a lonely thing. When what you write is not read, when the only interpretation of the text available to you is your own, writing can fold in on itself. Your voice becomes distorted by its own echo.

One of the persistent sources of happiness in my life is the Erotic Readers and Writers Association Storytime List. This list has been nurtured by Adrienne and her trusty staff at ERWA to become a place where a writer can be listened to, where they can learn and where they can share some of the strange in-the-closet aspects of writing.

Stories are posted to the list between Thursday and Saturday each week. Readers provide feedback on the stories throughout the week. Once a month there is a theme, posted well in advance, to help writers focus on a topic. The theme is meant to be useful practice for answer calls for submissions but I enjoy it most for the diversity of content and style that it delivers each month.

There are very few rules on the how feedback should be given on storytime. There are no quotas (to post a story you must feedback on at least x other stories first), no required format. You feedback on what you want to how you want to. It is typical of the style of ERWA that excellent guidelines are provided on how to criticise a story but only basic manners are required to participate.

Some feedback is a line or two. Some is very extensive. Some focuses on the craft of writing. Some talks about how the reader experienced the story. Some just encourages you to continue.

I owe a great debt to the feedback I’ve had from ERWA readers (not all of whom choose to be writers). In the end of course, the responsibility for the story stays with the writer. Writing is a about making choices. The feedback that I get from ERWA allows me to make informed choices, aware of how what I’d written has been read/experienced and coached on how to improve the craftwork.

One of the added bonuses of ERWA storytime is that some stories are selected each month to go on the ERWA website. I’m always please when one of mine makes it.

In September, I’m fortunate enough to have two stories on ERWA: “Burger Queen” which I mentioned in an earlier blog, and “Better than a cup of tea” which is a humorous but realistic look at one woman’s experience of sex toys.

If you are one of those addicted to putting words on paper, and you want to hear more than the sound of your own mind, I heartily recommend the ERWA storytime list to you.

If you are a reader who goes – oh, that was so good but I just wish the writer had… then what could be more rewarding than getting the chance to tell the writer that while the ink is still wet and his or her mind is still open.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the ERWA list, go here:

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