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This is my entry for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. Our prompt word this week was club, and I thought it was a great opportunity to dust off an idea that came straight out of a conversation my friends and I had back in college.

“The Rough Draught”

The bar was Noel’s idea in the first place. Everyone comes to see him.

They first met in college, students finding their place in the real world. They would chat about music, movies, video games, life. Most of the time, though, it was books. Books, authors, the publishing industry. It was their shared passion, whether they were heaping praise upon those that earned their approval or tearing down those that drew their ire.

Noel was majoring in business, Jackson in creative writing, Camille in professional editing, and Mike in art and philosophy. They quickly became close friends, and soon Mike and Camille were engaged. They met anywhere they were tolerated. Usually the volume and intensity of their conversations would scare other customers away in bookstores, and the relatively soundproof study rooms in the local library could only do so much once they really got started.

However, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with the club’s regular meetings. Graduation came, and their next reunion was not to be until Camille and Mike’s wedding a year later. It was at the wedding dinner that Noel proposed his idea.

“Imagine a place,” he said, “where people would be free to have the kind of conversations we used to have, but be able to find the support for their endeavors.”

“You obviously have something in mind,” Camille grinned, wiping a bit of cake from her mouth. “What is it?”

“I call it ‘The Rough Draught.’ A bar for book people, but not just a bar. A bookstore, a bar, a literary agency. Hell, we could even get a print-on-demand station if we wanted to. But I’d love your help. I’ve got a business plan and a couple of potential investors, but I would love your help. We could have editors and artists on hand every day. What do you guys think?”

“I love it, and the name’s perfect,” Jackson laughed. “When do we start?”

“As soon as we can,” Noel said.

Do you read magazines targeted at writers? I read a couple of different ones in my job at the library. I’m not about to claim that it makes me a better writer, but it does help me find some inspiration from time to time. I don’t only read magazines, though. I read blog posts by fellow writers. I follow them on twitter, published or otherwise. I do try to avoid books on writing, but that’s another matter altogether.

There’s an incredible community that is present in the writing world. We’re competition, yes, but we’re also the support network (yes, we have a support group for writers, we meet wherever there is booze). Without this community, I would have given up on my dream of being a writer a long time ago.

There are three things that I’ve learned that a writer must do in order to be successful.

1.) You have to write. I know it might seem self-explanatory, but we have a tendency to get caught up in the distractions of every day. Social media, research, the siren song of google and the endless labyrinth that is tvtropes. All of these things can keep us from doing what we need to do, whether it’s putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard (and both of those analogies began to sound dirty inside my head the minute I typed them, damn it). I know that I personally am over a week behind on NaNoWriMo right now because of various concept changes and plot shifts and other things keeping me from doing just what I set out to do.

2.) You have to read. It’s been said time and time again that reading is the only way to learn how to write. Find your favorite authors and read their works, early and late. See how they evolved over time. Study how they create characters and build plot events; how sentences are structured and how the story is shaped. Learn what works for you as a reader. Find the authors you don’t like, see what missteps they make so that you can avoid them.

3.) You have to live. Not like breathing and heart beating (though that generally is a prerequisite for numbers one and two above, and anyone finding out about a writer not being alive and still putting out new material should notify me right away). You have to experience things. Without channeling a certain amount of your own life into your characters, they’re going to come across as flat and boring. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing science fiction and have never been to another planet, or if you’re writing fantasy and have never fought a dragon with your bare hands (or in some cases, your bear hands). Everything you do can be turned into an aspect of a story. Did a conversation you had make you laugh? Recreate it in a setting-appropriate manner between your characters. Did you walk home from the bar in the dark last night? Take what you can remember of that walk and channel the emotion of it into your work in progress.

Thank you, fellow writers, for being part of the community that has taught me so much over these last few years. You’ve been great.

Seriously. Chuck is awesome. Read this. You’ll totally agree that he is awesome.

Also, NaNoWriMo is almost back on track after a slow weekend. Topped the 9,000 word mark with more to come. Roughly 1 day’s writing behind, but I’ll catch up tomorrow.