Last night marked the deadline for the first round of the “A Writer’s Recluse League Cup 2016” competition. It’s a friendly competition held whenever conditions are right by a group of friends on the A Writer’s Recluse forum. A place I’ve been writing and experimenting for nearly a decade now.
I’ve always enjoyed writing for AWR competitions. Sure there are no prizes; no trophies or book deals or anything beyond bragging rights. But the writing prompts always give me an excuse to stretch my wings a bit, explore new avenues and try things I might not otherwise try with the added promise of feedback. It’s one of the most valuable things out there for a fledgling writer, finding someone(s) who will read your work, terrible as it might be, and give you honest feedback.
All too often when someone reads for you, assuming you can find someone to read for you, the feedback is the same; “I liked it. It was really good. I think I noticed a couple misplaced commas, but other than that it was great.” I’ve never gotten that from AWR. From the first story competition I ever participated in, right up until the Arena competition earlier this year, feedback has always been honest and valuable. Sometimes it makes you feel great, really lifts you up and makes you feel like you’re headed in the right direction, just gotta make a few tweaks… Sometimes it’s borderline soul crushing. But it’s always honest. And free.
Free is another important factor here. AWR isn’t a paid forum. It’s just a collection of amateur writers, of a variety of skill levels and back grounds, who all came together in the same space for mutual benefit. We trade stories and reviews and feedback and advice, sometimes we’ll even line edit, all completely voluntarily. Of course that means that sometimes your work won’t get read immediately, or you might need to approach someone directly if you want their opinion; but posting a story to the Recluse has never amounted to a waste of time.
Especially if you join in on a competition; because then you know you’re going to get eyes on it. You know you’re going to get feedback and opinions. Not just from the judges, but often from other participants or opponents, or even the audience.
Then there is the absolute best part, the fairly new, somewhat bi-weekly, totally optional “Inklings” Skype chats where you’ll get to discuss your work with multiple people in real time, again I cannot stress this enough, for free. I know that link says the last one was in April, but we seriously just had one last weekend to kick off the competition.
If this all sounds like a not so cleverly veiled advertisement for A Writer’s Recluse; that’s because it is. AWR has been around for about ten years now with a pretty regular core community. Sadly, like out in the real world, as we grow up so too do we grow apart. Over the years we’ve watched the influx of new writers to the forum slow significantly, peripheral members have gone different directions and lurkers have stopped lurking. Even our trolls seem lackadaisical these days. Seriously, look at this slick graph of the last three months.
That yellow line at the bottom… That’s new people. Lot’s of activity, no new people.
Still, we hold multiple competitions a year, have our perpetually running “King of the Recluse Competition,” there’s the story and review forum, the word-dumps, the art forum and, of course the off-topic Writer’s Lounge where few, if any, subjects are truly taboo… also the super secret Underground Workshop, for those secret projects. Sssshhhh….. Though we’ve been told in the past that our tight little community can be difficult to infiltrate, rest assured that all new blood is heartily welcome.
So if any of the above sounds appealing to you, whether you write novels or flash fiction, stage-plays or poetry, or even if you’re just looking for something new to read; please drop by the forums and register (we’ll never send you email unless you ask for it), say hello, join the club, test your mettle, make some friends.
A Writer’s Recluse welcomes you.
(P.S. We’re on Facebook, too.)