Jessica Bates

writer | reader | mother | lover

June 26, 2017

how a regular writing group helped me complete my first book

writing birth and what came afterI have always been a fan of clubs. When I was a kid, my favorite was the Do What You Wanna Do Club, which basically entailed doing whatever the [email protected] you want to do. My friend Leslie asked me to join her book club. Then I started my own book club at Atmalogy. So the first book club morphed into a writing group.

My writing group has been invaluable to me. Not only does it give me somewhere else to go each month (I work from home & also tend to be a loner, an INFJ and homebody), but it also keeps me accountable to my writing goals.

When my son was born in late 2014 I wanted to stay at home and stare at him. But after a few months, I was itching to get back to writing and to share my writing. I remember some of our earlier meetings when I was newly breastfeeding, I’d read a poem about motherhood and my breasts would swell with milk. At the time I was the only writing group member with a child, but they humored my poems & even identified with them in other ways than being a mother. It was great to have a place to share, to have a group ready to hear from me every month.

Sometimes I’d not write anything coherent, just jumbled notes on my iPhone or weird phrases scribbled in a notebook. And then I’d realize it was writing group day (yay!) and I’d sit at the computer and type something up, adding new lines, rearranging things, pulling something meaningful from the fog.

After a year went by, I started looking at all the poems I’d written. I put them into Scrivener. I moved them around and changed them and read them out loud. (Scrivener makes it amazingly simple to rearrange poems or chapters or stories or whatever you’re dealing with. It really was worth every penny, and no one paid me to say that.) And even though I usually can’t focus on a title, I knew from early on that this book was called Birth & What Came After. It just felt right.

I was amazed at what I’d done; it was almost as if I wrote them in my sleep. I realized this was a book. I birth and what came afterrecognized a few holes that needed to be filled, some aspects of motherhood I hadn’t explored. I made notes. I read and re-read. I filled the holes. And I decided to self publish.

Not only did my writing group help me keep going, giving me momentum, they also encouraged me that my poems were good! They told me the poems deserved eyes on them, and that they would be appreciated by the right crowd. Once I let go of my fear, I was able to manifest my dream.

That’s how my book Birth & What Came After took form. Thanks in large part to my very good friends in writing group, I have a full length book of poetry under my belt. Next up, novel time!! Get excited.

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Birth & What Came After, female authors, nashville, poetry, writing - Jessica Bates