A season of gathering

by Kathryn Craft

It is logical to think that writers are particularly well-suited to thrive during a pandemic. Give them an internet connection, a laptop, and a room of their own and voila!—that novel will practically write itself!

Yeah, not quite.

I’m going to set aside obstacles like the fact that the writer may no longer be home alone. Or that he’s trained his muse to adhere to routines now disrupted. Or that writers on the whole are a sensitive lot who are keenly in tune with governmental strife, cultural mayhem, and the suffering of increasingly massive numbers of those who have caught Covid-19.

Today I want to focus on writers like me, who thrive from social stimulation and accountability.

Throughout my twenty years writing fiction, I have somehow taken that whole “writers must be introverted” thing and bent it to my will. I have insisted that writing be a social sport.

From hosting summer writing retreats to offering winter Craftwriting sessions, from leading formal writing organizations to facilitating weekly drop-in sessions at a local grocery store; I’ve had one predominant battle cry: “Don’t make me go up in my office and write all by myself!” My bio contains a trail of social crumbs: of all the places I could choose to be a monthly writing blog contributor, I chose WriterUnBoxed.com for its strong sense of community. The developmental editing business I started 14 years ago is called Writing-Partner.com—where my motto has been, “You don’t have to go it alone.”

These activities are not distractions; this is how I’ve focused my life around writing. Because just as Thanksgiving (in better years) is all about the way gathering nurtures us, so has gathering with other writers nurtured me as a writer, by strengthening my craft and holding me accountable.

Now, gathering like-minded writers—safely, through online videoconferencing—allows me to give back.

Do you have a novel that doesn’t seem to be writing itself? If you could use craft guidance in getting it effectively structured, and social support in getting it finished, I offer a one-year, small-group mentorship program, Your Novel Year, that just might be for you. 

The focus of the program is to deliver (or remind you of!) the craft you need through live video-conferencing workshops while motivating you to meet page turn-ins every six weeks. If you keep up a pace of one page per day, you can have a solid draft of your novel completed (or rewritten, if that’s the case) in one year. 100% of the 2020 participants met that goal!

Unlike writing workshops that require you to critique pages from other writers, our discussions will center on big-picture issues that will keep everyone’s writing on track. I’ll be the only one reviewing pages, allowing you to focus on your own work.

Over the past three years, I have been blessed to work with such sensitive, astute, and deep-thinking writers that now, as the program heads into its fourth year, I can’t wait to see who will end up on my virtual doorstep. And soon, I will—the application period for Your Novel Year 2021 is now open!

Apply by Dec. 20; program begins in January. Brochure contains the details, testimonials, and my qualifications. Only six writers will be accepted. 

Barbara Linn Probst, whose 2018 Your Novel Year manuscript, QUEEN OF THE OWLS, was published in April, wrote: “Kathryn makes every moment count, keeps the energy humming, encourages without coddling, and really knows her stuff. She’s always well-prepared, yet eager to seize the ‘teachable moments’ that are often where the best learning occurs. Her handouts are concise and practical, she’s accessible and responsive between sessions, and her feedback is deftly aimed at pushing us toward becoming better and better writers. An outstanding experience!”

So: will 2021 be YOUR novel year? Check out this brochure and let me know if you have questions! https://bit.ly/3fsNKEs

Writing a novel is a challenge in any circumstances, let alone during a time when the publishing industry is suffering steep economic challenges. We need our people to help us create our best possible work. Please consider letting me be your people.

And if the program isn’t a good fit for you at this time, and you made it this far, here is my wish: that you are well, being good to yourself, and finding something to be thankful for in this season of challenged gathering.