Interview with author Melissa Gijsbers
Melissa is a published author of picture books, chapter books, short stories and more.
What writing group/s do you belong to? Currently the main writers groups I belong to are on Facebook and I joined as a result of some challenges. These include the 12x12 in 2012 group, formed as part of a challenge started by Julie Hedlund (http://www.juliehedlund.com/12-x-12/ ) and the Chapter Book Challenge started by Becky Fyfe (http://chapterbookchallenge.blogspot.com.au/ ). These two groups are open to those involved in the challenges.
What is the structure of this writing group? The challenge writing groups are closed Facebook groups for those participating in the challenges. Members can post questions and support each other in their writing projects. We can also post relevant blog posts, both from our own blogs and other interesting blogs.
Is this writing group associated with a state or national organisation? No.
Does this group have affiliations with peak writing associated bodies? No, although many members are part of the SCBWI.
How many members does this writing group have? The 12x12 in 2012 group has 276 members and the Chapter Book Challenge group has 25 members.
Does the writing group have a clearly defined goal in writing? Each group has a clearly defined goal as set out in the challenge. With the 12x12 in 2012 group, the goal is to write the first draft of a picture book each month in 2012. With the Chapter Book Challenge group, the goal was to write the first draft of a chapter book.
Are there any critiquing guidelines to follow? There are no formal guidelines to follow, and not everyone in the group is part of a critique group, though we do critique each others work when requested.
Are there any guidelines for people whose work is being critiqued to follow? No, though it's generally requested if you request a critique, you will critique the work of others also.
Does the group have set guidelines for behaviour, and a process to remove members who are disruptive to the smooth running of the group? There aren't any guidelines, other than the general rules of being good to each other.
Does everybody contribute to each meeting, or do you only hear from the same few people? As the groups are online, we don't have meetings. Not everyone posts questions or comments on the questions of others, however there are many who read the posts without replying.
How long have you been a member of this writing group? These groups are quite new and I've been a member since the start of both of them. 12X12 in 2012 started in January and the Chapter Book Challenge group started in March.
What is your role within this group? I'm a member.
What are the benefits to you from attending a writing group? These groups have been of huge benefit to me. They have pushed me to finish my stories instead of leaving them half done. The support of the other members is also encouraging me to move past the first draft and start polishing them ready for submission to competitions and publishers.
Why be in a writing group? Writing is a solitary business and the support of a writing group is invaluable.
What do you look for in a writing group? As I'm just getting back to writing, I was looking for something informal that I could visit when I had time. I also wanted a group that would help me achieve my goals.
Does your writing group give peer critique or general comment? Not publicly, however there are members who are happy to give critique, both those offering free critique and those who offer it as a paid service.
What is the focus of your writing group – writing or poetry? Writing for children. There are some who write poetry as well as those who write prose.
Is there anything you would like from your writing group that is missing at the moment? It would be wonderful to meet some of the other members in real life. Currently we are all over the World, however there are a few in the same city as me. We just haven't been able to organise a meet up yet.
Have you belonged to any other writing groups? No.
Have you had a negative experience in a writing group? Not yet.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of joining a writing group? Find one that suits you, both your lifestyle and your writing style. They need to be something you enjoy being part of and not something you dread going to because you have too much on your plate.
Is there anything you would like to add? Writing is a solitary business, it's helpful to be able to talk with other writers who understand the journey and the ideas bubbling inside your head, whether it is online or offline. There are certain things you can share with other writers that you can't share with non-writers. Members of your writing group can help you reach your writing goals.
Thank you, Melissa, for participating