I’ve decided it’s time for a change. A couple of changes in fact. The first is that I’m forming a book (& wine) club, starting with one in Washington DC. The concept is simple. Good books. Good wine. Good conversation. And of course, good ambiance. The setting will be mellow and intimate; in a private event room in a lounge, wine bar or similar locale. Attendees will have at least eight weeks to complete the book, which will be issue-oriented women’s fiction, or something amazing and provocative that comes out in the non-fiction realm like Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, or the intriguing Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (thanks Tammy Jackson!).
I think I’ve roped a couple writer-friends into helping make these events happen in more than one city, hopefully simultaneously, and maybe we can make a movement out of it!
What inspired me was a couple book club meetings I’ve been to recently, where quite apart from the conversation about books, there was really mind-blowing, stimulating conversations about the world. And books are, for me, always a really great conduit to those conversations. I don’t mean to suggest that these book & wine club meetings won’t ever have fun conversations about the latest hot indie (and other) authors, but they will primarily be a good way for us to go deeper, and ask questions like, ‘Is Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith Black America’s revenge fantasy?‘ I’d love to talk about great literature, but also want people who’re interested in talking about great ideas.
The plan is to have the first meeting this fall sometime. I’ll post more as it develops, but if this thumbnail sketch sounds good, look out for more soon!
Now to the second thing. Occasionally I get email from writer-friends asking for me to beta-read, or copy-edit. And the answer is always ‘no’. Copy-editing is not my forte (are you kidding me?) but, nor is it an interest of mine. And I don’t use beta-readers and don’t much want to become one. Beta readers are a writer’s end-users who react to a finished product. But what I do on occasion is read for other writers to help story-edit. Story editors help shape the narrative in both form and effect. For me, playing this role usually works best when I know the writer well, or at least get a chance to talk to them about the mood and tone they’re trying to get to. When I’ve done this, I give feedback about whether the tone they mentioned they want to strike came through for me, whether the characters were consistent, whether the narrative voice is effective and the story arc works.
Beginning this fall, I’m going to be offering story-editing services for a fee. I do this for free now (and will continue to on occasion) because it’s fun to help shape a narrative and share ideas and get truly invested in someone else’s story; and because honestly, I learn just as much as if not more than I impart, and have my own writing enriched by paying attention to that of others. But now, I think it’s time to monetize this activity because, hey, who doesn’t want to get compensated for their work? But more than that, because in doing so, it forces me to apply more focus and seriousness to an activity that before now, was something I did casually for a friend or two while I had my morning coffee, or a break at work.
So if you’re out there and looking for someone who will do more than find typos (because for that I am definitely not your girl), consider hitting me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll roll out more about this later, as well, but feel free to reach out now if you’re interested. In the meantime, as always ….