Interview with author Terry L Probert
After a lifetime in sales and marketing, Terry L Probert now finds time to depart from writing commercials and media releases to participate in a writing group. A forced lifestyle change has allowed time to join Wordsmiths of Melton. Armed with a good memory and a dry sense of humour, Terry draws on decades of experience of working with some great Aussie characters to weave a tale, indulging his passion for writing novels and short stories.
Samples of Terry's writing can be seen here. What better way to spend a quiet Sunday? Stop by and leave a comment of encouragement and don't forget to follow his blog for regular updates of his stories and writing progress
What writing group/s do you belong to?
Wordsmiths of Melton
What is the structure of this writing group?
We are a critiquing group our members meet three times a month at the Melton Library in Rees Road. A convivial meeting where writers review and discuss work all submitted for critique the week before. It is important we submit items for critique by e-mail to the group leader in our case Frank Ince by Sunday to allow everyone time to prepare for the Wednesday.
Is this writing group associated with a state or national organisation?
I’m not able to answer this, other than to say many of our participants are aligned with many different recognised writers’ bodies and information is generously shared.
Does this group have affiliations with peak writing associated bodies?
The answer I have given above probably covers this question.
How many members does this writing group have?
At present, we have about ten participants.
Does the writing group have a clearly defined goal in writing?
My understanding of the group’s goals is to: Assist and promote the writing skills of like-minded individuals of the Melton Area.
Are there any critiquing guidelines to follow?
We work under the premise that everyone who submits work for critique does so knowing that the Wordsmiths will offer suggestions to help the writer with everything to make the writing better. Some will better understand punctuation and offer suggestions. Others may point out continuity or tense errors in their critique. Everyone tries to help the writer presenting his or her work to achieve a better standard. In my case, this has helped enormously. In going back and working through the first re-write of my novel Kundela, I can see where my writing has improved after each meeting.
Are there any guidelines for people whose work is being critiqued to follow?
Frank has ably instructed us about what is expected. For a more detailed answer, I recommend readers go to the Wordsmiths of Melton website and read our guidelines. These form the foundations of our group and serve the participants well.
Does the group have set guidelines for behaviour, and a process to remove members who are disruptive to the smooth running of the group?
I am confident that our Critiquing Guidelines cover this area well enough to hand disruptions.
Does everybody contribute to each meeting, or do you only hear from the same few people?
Generally, everyone contributes, some are unable to present work due to other commitments but most of us present our critiques, and if unable to attend the meeting, submit them to the group leader for distribution. Every member takes this responsibility seriously. It’s what makes the group work.
How long have you been a member of this writing group?
I started with the wordsmiths about six months ago. They have welcomed me and it seems as if they have been part of my life for years.
What is your role within this group?
I am probably selfish in as much that I am a participant only. The others tower above me, as far as talent and experience are concerned. I joined to milk their knowledge with an aim to becoming a better storyteller and writer.
What are the benefits to you from attending a writing group?
To me the benefits are an ongoing development of my skills, learning about the intricacies of the publishing world, and improving my skills. However, the best part of the group is the excitement created by being around like-minded people. These people are my friends.
Why be in a writing group?
Why not? If someone is reading this, then they are probably interested in telling a story. Be it memoirs, a novel, a speech or even a business plan, a critiquing writers group will fast track their skill development. It has mine.
What do you look for in a writing group?
Help, there is a certain safety of being in a group, who are able to analyse your work, and not ridicule it. Great strength comes from this kind of environment.
Does your writing group give peer critique or general comment?
Every time. It is how we grow as writers.
What is the focus of your writing group – writing or poetry?
Our group has a cross section of genre, while most focus is on stories we have a couple of poets.
Can the two be successfully combined in terms of critiquing?
Why not, we all learn from what is presented. No one person in our group has the franchise for perfection and by joining in the critiques we pick up on the others points of view.
Is there anything you would like from your writing group that is missing at the moment?
Fast track to being published, I’m kidding, I am happy with our group and the benefits I derive from it.
Have you belonged to any other writing groups?
No I’m a writers group virgin.
Have you had a negative experience in a writing group?
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of joining a writing group?
Do it today.
Is there anything you would like to add?
If I am able to become a published author a lot of credit will go to the group as they are the people who promote the dream. Their assistance in cajoling, critiquing, encouraging and correcting cannot be underestimated. Family support is important and believe me they will tell you something is rubbish. Your writing group colleagues will help to find a way to help improve the work.
Thank you for participating