Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Music Begins to Inspire Our Art.

Yep, today’s re-blog is about kids painting after hearing music…

But, it could be accepted by adults as an example of how music can affect all art—even, writing. :-)

A Teacher's Reflections

“The music goes into your ears and into your brain.  Then, as you listen to the notes and sounds, it goes into your heart and shoots out of your fingers.  Like a million stars.  It’s magic.”

Those are the words I passionately said to fifteen spellbound children, sitting around my record player and watching me carefully take an album out of the jacket.  I put it onto the turn table and lowered the arm.  I knew that this was true, and that the children would become masters at their work when listening to music.  Their fingers could paint what was in their heart.

Then I began to play the music, Beethoven Symphony No. 9.  This music starts low and builds to a crescendo.  The louder the music, the bigger and wider children’s eyes became.  We listened.  We heard the sounds of violins.  At the same time I showed children works…

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Leaf And Twig

with a flower
highlight of the hour

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More Conversation about Writers’ Groups . . .

This blog conversation began on November 14th… Writers' Groups

I shared quite a bit about my experience with and understanding of writers’ groups; plus, revealed a few famous writers who favored the group experience; and, pointed to a site that discussed different types of writers’ groups and the elements of successful groups…

So, before we get to the reader comments that are the reason for these discussions, I’ll share this link about four hidden dangers of writing groups from Jane Friedman. Perhaps reading it will prompt you to make a comment that I could feature in the next installment :-)

But, let’s get back to this installment and the comments that will power this discussion forward.

The first reader to respond is a writer from Maine, in the USA, and someone I  follow on Wattpad (where you can read some of her work...):

“I’ve had various experiences but am happy to report that my current writers group is fantastic. We are a small, supportive, diverse group of writers. What we do is gather together and read from our current projects—not for critique but simply to share. We end up having discussions that come up from the readings, and if someone wants some particular feedback she can request it, but mostly it’s just encouragement and applause. We had a weekend ‘retreat’ this summer where we each brought a couple of exercises or prompts to share and that was fun. Otherwise, it’s more of a gathering of people who enjoy writing. Sometimes we go to public readings together. Unfortunately for me, I’ve moved all the way across the country. I’ve ‘joined’ the meeting via technology a couple of times, but it just isn’t as satisfying. I think the key is to find people you’d want to hang around regardless of the writing.”

The most interesting thing for me in this comment is that I do something quite similar with my Best Friend in a virtual world she’s built—sharing, hanging out, talking things over—though, some of our writerly activities spill over into email… ( We’ve never met in “real life” but certainly know each other quite well from the 8 years we’ve been getting together in virtual reality :-)

I do hope our commenter can find a group in her new location that’s just as valuable and fun; or, amp-up the technological meetings—perhaps by creating a virtual world to meet in


Does our first comment spark any responses you’d be willing to share at the end of this post?


The second reader who shared is a writer, poet and artist from Belgium who’s also an admin in a writing community I’ve just barely begun to hang out in:

“I’m in an online community. I joined an online group in September last year, shortly after finishing my first short story. That group evolved into another group, and then we evolved again, into the group we are now.

“In a short time, I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned a lot. And I honestly don’t think I’d have accomplished that on my own. We push each other onwards and upwards. Share craft, reading tips, experiences, knowledge gained. We help each other brainstorm and revise. We cheer for every submission made and commiserate with every rejection.

“Spending time with other creative minds acts as a catalyst for my own creative mind, and I couldn’t imagine my life without the INKlings in it, to be honest.”


Have you been in an online writers’ group? Care to share about it at the end of the post?


Our third reader comment is from a self-publishing writer in the United Kingdom who’s been a rather regular commenter here:

“I think the writing group I joined since I started publishing has sort of evolved. The lead writer has written a number of books and publishes with Feedaread. That group meets in her house and we read whatever we are working on at the time and accept criticism. However we are also friends and meet outside the regular sessions and organise marketing opportunities like stalls at craft fairs and participate in book shows. We have also produced two anthologies.

“We also met for a workshop/group where one of our number gave us a writing exercise and homework but unfortunately this is no longer operating due to illness.

“The first group has had a number of successes but the greatest success is the social and supportive element. Once one leaves work it is not always easy to find like minded companions.”

I’ll guess that the “leaves work” part of that comment means a day job; but, her group is extremely well-rounded when it comes to a variety of writerly activities :-)


Have you been in such an active writers’ group? Want to share your experiences?



Three comments from writers who treasure the social and friendship qualities of their groups…

It appears they may have avoided the “hidden dangers” of writing groups…

And, if you’re thinking of forming a group, I’ll just list the bullet points from that article on potential challenges for writers’ groups:

1. No one tells the truth and no one really wants to hear it.

2. Struggling writers are not often the best judges of struggling writing.

3. Failure is not an option in a writer’s group, but failure is a part of the writing process.

Are you in a writers’ group…?

What do you most enjoy about your group…?

Or, do you think you need to join a writers’ group…?

Or, are you sure a writers’ group would never fit your needs…?

Have you formed or are you about to form a group…?

What do you think is most important for a successful writers’ group…?

All it takes is one reader comment to continue this conversation :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

How Re-Establishing My Identity as a “Capital ‘R’” Reader Changed My Classroom by Malia Oshiro

Today’s re-blog is a fascinating story from a teacher; but, it shouldn’t be very hard to translate the wisdom she finds into vital awareness for writers :-)

Nerdy Book Club

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a bookworm. I never left the house without a book. As a child, I distinctly remember throwing a temper tantrum of epic proportions—flailing on the ground, stomping my feet, crying hysterically to the point of hyperventilation. The cause? I didn’t think I had enough chapter books to entertain me during a family dinner at a local restaurant.

Over time, that identity shifted. I trudged through the mandatory reading lists in my Honors and Advanced Placement classes, rarely finding time between extracurricular activities to read for “me.” In the transition to college, I lacked that simple spark of joy when I held a book that I had selected for myself to immerse myself in. I entered college as a business and marketing major and left with a teaching degree and a job in a high school English classroom. I imagined that I…

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A Blog Conversation about Writers’ Groups . . .

Our previous conversation here was about Book Promotion; but, it ended due to a lack of reader comment… Writers' Groups

I’ll begin this new discussion by sharing that I’ve only attended two writers’ groups in my relatively long life and didn’t see the benefits of the arrangement.

My not appreciating the experience could have been due to the way they were conducted or the particular people attending; though, now that I’m quite a bit older then when they happened, I could add my individual “disposition” to why they didn’t work for me.


My best friend is and has been for many years quite faithful in her attendance and participation in her writers’ group; and, she happens to have quite the independent mind; so, there must be something worthwhile in certain writers’ groups, for certain people…

I’m sure there’s a profusion of different kinds of writers’ groups in the world since, in the first place, writers are usually quite unique folks; and, in the second place, a group of writers couldn’t very well form a group without it also being unique; though, I suppose there are a few groups out there that copy the structure and behavior of other groups and either fail or limp along helping none of the participants…

And, I should mention, this discussion isn’t about writing “workshops” (usually, limited-time events); but, there could be workshop elements in a regularly-meeting group…

As far as the “right” kind of group, I could only imagine it would need to have a first meeting with the immediate group of writers; and, those writers would need to “write the first draft” of what their particular group needed to accomplish for the members—a collaborative sketching out of the type of “organism” the group could become—the group’s “story”…

Naturally, if other writers were admitted to the group, the “story” would need some sort of “revision” based on the new “characters”—not necessarily a complete recasting of the group; but, at least, some adjustments for the creative nature of the new participants…


Maybe I’ve just drawn up a plan for a writers’ group I could join :-)

Then again, being a septuagenarian, I’ll continue plotting my writer’s voyage alone; yet, certainly, stopping in my best friend’s port of call for a bit of writerly banter and, perhaps, from time to time, a sounding out of a new way to set my sails…

Though, from what I’ve just said, you might think my friend and I have a writers’ group; but, in my definition of “group”, there must be at least three people…

However, recently, I’ve been visiting a “writing community“; but, due to the intensive nature of my personal writing activities, I only check in for short spells of friendly chat…

And, no matter what I may say about our discussion topic, folks who’ve attained some renown in writerly pursuits have belonged to writers’ groups.

According to an article on Inked Voices the following writers found value in the group experience:

J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Robert Frost, Rupert Brooke, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald…

And, even if you don’t want to pay to join Inked Voices programs, they still have interesting pages on different types of writers’ groups and various elements of successful groups

Finally, I should mention there are online writers’ groups, as well as a few in virtual worlds…


Are you in a writers’ group…?

What do you most enjoy about your writers’ group…?

Do you think you need to join a writers’ group…?

Are you sure a writers’ group could never fit your needs…?

Have you formed or are you about to form a writers’ group…?

What do you think is most important for a successful writers’ group…?

All it takes is one reader comment to continue this conversation :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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