Time for the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, we share our writing successes, failures, insecurities, goals, and offer each other support or advice. The blog hop is my favorite part of being a member of IWSG and I encourage anyone who writes to join.

Check us out here


Let’s get the bad news out of the way. Last night, I was informed my poetry chapbook was not selected as a finalist for the Black River Chapbook Competition. My initial response was disappointment, followed by frustration. I felt this particular work was quite good and was sure any committee would feel the same way. Lucky for me, the negative emotions didn’t linger. I slept well, had pleasant dreams. Already, I am planning to submit the collection elsewhere. Onward, upward, forward.

I appreciate all the support, help, good wishes from my writing friends. They were a source of support and strength.

Let’s talk about something else.

The IWSG question for February is- How has being a writer changed your (my) experience as a reader?

I’m going to flip the question some- How has being a reader changed my experience as a writer. Reading is what fuels my writing. Hopefully, each book  I pick up offers a different way of approaching a topic, sentence structure, storytelling. Whenever I think there are no more new ideas, someone comes along and proves me wrong. Through reading I also discover ways not to tell stories, share ideas. Comparing various styles and approaches offers all sorts of interesting options.

An analogy-

When I first started playing the guitar, I had no desire to play other people’s music. I only wanted to learn basic skills, then create my own songs. This worked for me at the time, and gave me a strong motivation to practice as the song ideas in my head finally had an outlet (even if it was limited to a few notes and chords). However, not watching, listening, learning technique from other more talented and practiced musicians ultimately slowed my progress. When the early excitement and desire faded, I found it harder to learn new skills. My practice motivation waned, and when I finally was ready to watch, listen, learn, I found changing my habits difficult. That said, seeing how others approached the instrument has greatly improved my skills. I have found joy in playing the music of others and their work has inspired and influenced the way I create music now.

In my experience, writing works the same way. Sure, one can learn how to create sentences, and write simple stories or articles, even be satisfied with the results, but if that same person fails to learn from other writers, their craft will ultimately suffer.

I feel reading and writing are intimately connected, and struggle to understand writers who don’t read (multiple genres, subjects, non-fiction as well as fiction). For most of us, the reason we wanted to be a writer in the first place was someone else wrote stories or ideas which impacted us. We wanted to pick up a pen (computer, etc) and become part of that world, offering our own ideas, enter the conversation.

Just like being part of this blog hop, sharing, learning, growing, becoming better writers.


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About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

15 responses to “IWSG-February”

  1. Liesbet says :

    Sorry to hear about the chapbook, Ryan. I am very positive that someone else will love and publish it, though! Did they leave you any feedback?

    Reading and writing are connected, for sure. As a kid, I loved to read (in Dutch) and I’d like to think it influenced me in the way I used and liked language growing up. As an adult, I read much less, even though I still enjoy the activity. Priorities, I guess. That being said, I have always written (much more than I ever read) and the reason is not because I was inspired by what others wrote, but because I wanted to share my own stories and adventures and inspire others. Maybe that’s weird, but I like to not be influenced by other writers. That being said, my use of language, vocabulary and ideas would certainly benefit from some outside influence!

    • fenster says :

      There wasn’t any feedback as I’m sure they had thousands of entries. I was actually surprised to get an email notification at all.

      As for reading, I can see why you wouldn’t want to be influenced by other writers to the point that you are a copy of someone else. I do think that not being aware of what is being written, how others are approaching topics can leave you on the outside of the conversation. Wanting to inspire others is a grand goal.

  2. Ellen Jacobson says :

    I’m sorry to hear you weren’t selected as a finalist 😦

    I like your guitar analogy, especially the part about habits being hard to break. I’m glad I found the IWSG early on in my writing efforts which is making it easier to learn from others without being so entrenched in my ways.

    • fenster says :

      I was sorry too, but I’m dealing.

      I think I treated writing much like guitar playing when I was younger. I thought I knew better ways to do things and would figure out things on my own. That works to some extent, but it is a very limiting approach to learning any skill. I really love being part of IWSG. There are so many outstanding people.

  3. Erika Beebe says :

    Writer’s who don’t read? That seems sort of like an oxymoron. I admire your growth. Yes, I believe we learn best by studying what has worked in the past. 🙂

    • fenster says :

      Yeah, it does seem like an oxymoron, yet I’ve encountered way more of these types than I thought possible. I’m sure they read some, but not to the extent I think necessary.

  4. cecelia earl says :

    Sorry you weren’t selected, but you have the right attitude, because you will find success elsewhere! I’ve never heard of a writer who doesn’t read. I may have to choose between writing and reading when I’m working full time and being a mom, but I always have a book I WANT to be reading or read when i can steal a few minutes (or days)! I LOVE your analogy. It makes me think of how we learn to do EVERYTHING. We all need models and variety. Christy (aka Cecelia) from erica and christy http://lynneawest.blogspot.com

    • fenster says :

      Each time I encounter a writer who isn’t a voracious reader, I pause and wonder if I am understanding them correctly. They obviously read some, but it is hard for me to understand that approach as reading is so important to my writing.

  5. Arlee Bird says :

    You’ve got the right attitude–try, try again is the way to do things.

    I agree that we can learn so much from those who are better than we are. If we only look at what we do we can end up creating very insular work that might not relate well for others.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  6. Zeannaroux says :

    I love this. You gave me a lot to think about ^-^
    I am sorry your poems where not selected but have much faith in your work. Your time will come soon.

  7. doreenb8 says :

    Those darn rejections. I’m sorry but you are so right. Submit elsewhere and submit often! I agree I am such a better writer because I read, a lot!

  8. Michelle Wallace says :

    Ryan, I’m sorry that your chapbook was not selected as a finalist. Damn. It’s a great selection! 🙂
    Look at it in this way, that wasn’t the correct publication for your work.
    But I do like your attitude – Onward, upward, forward. ALL THE WAY.

    Writers who don’t read? Confuses me.
    Makes. No. Sense. At. All.

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