Writing a book. Getting your name in print. Becoming a best-selling novelist.
This is the dream of many. But getting there is the challenging part. Good writer or excellent writer, the difficulty is all the same. To help local writers through this process, published authors Valerie Trammel and Dev Ross came together to create the Writers of the Verde Valley Guild.
The guild, which has been meeting every first Tuesday of the month for over a year now, is finally seeing the fruits of its labors. Many of its long-time members are finishing manuscripts and becoming published. But, more importantly, they are following their passion, doing the work and letting their writing take them to an assortment of places.
"I started attending the writer’s guild when they started meeting at Imagine Art in Sedona, a business I own," said writer and business owner Eveline Horelle. "It gave me the necessary fuel in writing my book. I am working on an autobiography. Writing this book has been like an inner journey. It is like I am not writing from a point of intellect; it is a subconscious translation of my past that is borderline metaphysical."
Trammel said the most difficult challenge that writers bring to the guild is finishing what they started.
"Many of the writers complain that they can’t finish a large project, such as a novel or screenplay because of their lack of time or key position within their family," she said. "We have offered tips on this and have been able to see people accomplish quite a bit when it comes to finishing a project."
Cathy Smith of Camp Verde is one such person. Smith said she was always busy teaching, raising kids, taking care of her mom and fighting cancer, a diagnosis that put her writing career on hold twice, until she became motivated through the other writers in the guild.
"I am now ready to market myself and work on getting some of my writing published," Smith said. "The guild has been a great support group and the reason I finally decided to take the plunge and fulfill my dream of becoming a published author. Connecting with other writers is very important since it gives encouragement and the drive to move forward."
Smith hopes to publish a series of children’s stories about a boy named F. Finaby Feebo, Adventurer by Trade.
Willis Peterson didn’t take the class to become a writer. He was already a successful writer. As a retired professor living in Clarkdale with 13 years under his belt as a journalist for the Arizona Republic with published photography and writings in large magazines such as National Geographic, Audubon and Arizona Highways, he was looking for encouragement to try something different.
"The group has helped me receive feedback in shaping up my manuscript," Peterson said. "I wanted a new slant on things, to listen to new things and meet new people. Get recharged. I have been meeting people who are writing and I like parlaying one idea against another with them. The speakers are phenomenal and the interaction with the speaker is the most beneficial part."
Peterson has finished his manuscript, titled Colorado Kid, which portrays his life during the depression living in Colorado with his Swedish mother and eccentric aunt. He is now ready to find a publisher.
Roger Naylor, another guild attendee, is also well-published but attends the workshop because of the people.
"I attend lectures because I enjoy being around people going through the writing process," Naylor said. "Writing is a solitary pastime, especially as freelancers who work out of their homes. I write for publications that aren’t here in the area and I don’t have a lot of immediate feedback. It is good for me to have contact with other people who are going through the writing process."
Trammel emphasizes that the guild isn’t about teaching people the mechanics of the English language, but through its numerous speakers can emphasize tricks of the trade that she hopes will motivate people to move forward with their projects.
"We won’t tell you how good or bad your story is," she said. "We’re not in the position to publish someone’s work so my opinion isn’t going to matter anyway. But we can tell people how to prepare the work for publication, how to make it better before they solicit a professional to read it and how to go through the process of obtaining an agent and publisher."
For more information about the Verde Valley Writer’s Guild, call Trammel at 567-5770. A tentative schedule for next year’s topics has been created. It includes:
• Jan 9 — Shameless Self Promotion for New Authors
• Feb 6 — Writing for Newspapers/Magazines.
• March 6 — The Business or Legal End of Being a Writer.
• April 3 — The Internet as a Marketplace — Writing to Sell Online.