by Mackenzie Stickney
I sat down with Molly Emmons, novel writing group extraordinaire, to pick her brain
about her upcoming workshop at the WordFire Conference: The Care and Feeding of a Writers’
Group. She told me some great stories from her college years: romances, choosing majors, and
bizarre parties (future articles are pending), and gave some well-appreciated advice to an
aspiring creative writer (i.e. me.) Snuck in between some well told stories, she let me in on the inner
workings of a novel writing group:
Mackenzie: “You’re a novelist and a teacher. What influenced the other? Was it the teacher
influencing the the writer, or–”
Mollly: “No, it was the writer. I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first short story at age 7. I
was writing little novels by junior high, ya know, but I didn’t really get the kinda feedback or
encouragement that would make me take it seriously.”
At least not right away until college, that sort of encouragement is exactly what she says a
writing group offers. It’s a place of friends– where they can openly critique one another and speak to each other freely, form a warm community full of inside jokes and individual
strengths where everyone “speaks each other’s language.”
I asked her what is the largest group of people to have to make such a warm community.
Molly: “We keep it at eight. There’s eight because we read two stories at a time and we
want everyone to go once every month. So first of all, there has to be trust between the members.
It doesn’t work if there’s not and you can’t be honest enough if there’s no trust. We also laugh a
lot. You have to like each other in a novel writing group. So we’re really really picky about who
we let in.”
More articles on topics touched on during the interview are coming! Also, if a writing group
seems like something you are interested in — make sure to stop by Molly Emmons workshop April 28th at the Butte WordFire conference @buttewordfire.org
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