The Writing Life

…a literary journey

Joining a Book Club


bookcluba n x i e t y

I recently joined a local book club, and while I’m looking forward to the first meeting in a few weeks, I have a bit of anxiety, wondering if being a writer is going to make it more difficult to fit in with the group. I have moments where I feel like I’m going on Big Brother, and I debate whether or not to share the fact that I’m a writer. Then I think, not a good way to start out in a new social group – pretending to be someone you’re not!

This group looks promising – the current selection is this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, All the Light We Cannot See, a book that is already on my to-read list.

Although I’ve always been a voracious reader, I’ve never really discussed books in-depth with another person, let alone a group of people, which is one reason I’ve always shied away from such a group. Reading is such a personal activity – what strikes a chord with me may not have the same effect on someone else. But I guess that’s the point – to see the book from other perspectives.

As a writer, I think a book club could be a huge positive. Not as a way to market my own book (although it may be a great place to find a beta reader or two)…but more to find what elements speak the loudest to other readers. In my own writing, dialogue is a strength and description is something I have to actively work at. When I read, I’ve always had a tendency to skip over long paragraphs of description, in a hurry to get to the dialogue which I always saw as the ‘real’ part of the story. As I’ve grown in my writing, I now see the importance of putting the two together in order to create a strong piece of fiction.

Listening to other readers discuss what worked in a book will help me make sure I pay attention to those things in my own work, and hopefully as a reader, help me to slow down and appreciate everything that the author took the time to craft.

If you’re a writer who belongs to a book club, I would love to hear from you – were you able to improve your writing? Did you change the way you read? Doing something new is always scary, but doing nothing new is not an option for a writer.

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