One of the smartest things I did last year was join a writing group. Meeting with the members on a monthly basis is enjoyable, educational, and helpful. If I had known these folks earlier, I think it would have made a difference in my writing long before now.
Because of my writing group, I look at my work in a different way and am able to spot flaws that I wouldn’t have seen in the past. I’m able to rework passages to make them more descriptive because of Kathryn. “Make your reader see what you see, “she advised. Because of Doug, I’m ever vigilant for the overuse of gerunds and adverbs, and I now second guess myself whenever I’m using a number. Is it 15 or fifteen? Brenda recently told me to slash a large portion of an introduction to an e-book and to omit stories unless they were absolutely positively relevant. And that was just last month!
When writing Eve’s Sisters, I was able to clarify my focus when Brenda asked me a question about my qualifications for writing such a book. She picked up on my uncomprehending look right away and asked, “Are you a person with a position in your church?”
“No, not really,” I said.
“Do you have a degree in theology or something related?” Brenda asked.
“No again. Why? Do you think it matters?” I queried.
“Because you need to think about your platform. People are going to want to know what qualifies you to write a book about the lives of the women in the Bible,” she answered.
As I recall, the room was quiet for a few moments until I blurted out, “Well, I’m a woman. That’s one thing. And I’ve been teaching psychology for 30+ years.”
“And how will you work that into your platform?” Brenda asked.
Stunned, I realized that everything she was saying was true and that if Brenda hasn’t asked me those questions, I might not have ever considered their importance. When people (including me) read non-fiction, they want to know what the author’s credentials are. What makes the writer an authority? What is it about his or her credentials that makes the individual an expert?
I did some serious pondering and realized that every single woman I had written about had some sort of psychological issue going on. Whether fearful, abused, unloved, caring, brave, optimistic, or hardworking, each woman demonstrated a psychological principle or two. Studying and teaching psychology for over three decades have given me an increased understanding of human behavior, and being a woman gives me a more accurate perception of the hearts and minds of all females, including little girls and their great grandmothers.
That’s my platform. I’m a woman, and my gender and career are my primary credentials. As I mentioned in Eve’s Sisters, the combination of religion and psychology have saved my life (in a manner of speaking) on many occasions, and I can easily see that this winning combination will work for other women too.