Friday, November 8, 2013

The Benefits of Joining a Writing Support Group

Sandpoint Film Festival at the Panida Film Festival, Nov. 2, 2013
Just a few days ago I was treated to the heady experience of seeing my first screenplay up on the big screen and hearing audience laughter and applause for my words. First excitement; then happiness; then appreciation. My excitement was in seeing Root Bound in a movie theater. Happiness washed over me when the story touched the audience. And my appreciation for my membership in writing groups blossomed as I became aware of how far I have progressed since the day I first overcame my fear and visited a writing group.

Actor James Pendleton, Director Rebecca Cook and
screenwriter Mary Jane Honegger enjoy the moment
following award at Sandpoint Film Festival.
Without the inspiration, motivation and mentoring I received from members of the Coeur d’Alene Chapter of the Idaho Writer's League I would not have become a writer. Without the mentoring and support of members of Northwest Independent Film & Video Entertainment Society (kNIFVES) I would not have become a screenwriter. Of course my family support was essential (especially my spouse), but in addition to that "attagirl” attitude I received from my family, the information, advice and expertise provided to me by those writing groups enabled me to step up on that stage as a screenwriter. 

Root Bound director Rebecca Cook shares information onstage at the
Sandpoint Film Festival while screenwriter Mary Jane Honegger and
Festival Director Janice Jarzabek share the limelight.
For me, joining writing support groups enlarged my world and enabled me to break outside the solitary box I created around my writing. These groups held informative monthly programs with plenty of networking opportunities; and sponsored classes, workshops and conferences. Through these groups I learned of writing opportunities, grew to appreciate critiques of my work and found mentors whose encouragement helped me set higher goals for myself as a writer.

Jennifer Lamont Leo chats with friends at
2008 Idaho Writer's League Meeting
Most importantly, I found friendship with other writers by joining these groups. They were writers. They understood. They appreciated why it takes me so long to find the right word or phrase. They commiserated with my rejections and urged me not to give up; they buoyed me up when I flubbed (big time); and applauded when success came my way. They showed up for my premier or sent their best wishes.

Nancy Owens Barnes supported my screenwriting from the beginning. Several years ago the two of us decided to learn how to write a screenplay. We attended our first screenwriting workshop in Kalispell together and ordered screenwriting software with the same hopeful expectation. Nancy not only read my first draft of Root Bound, she agonized with me through years of rewrites and cancelled production schedules. As a writer, she understood. She was the first person I called when the project was done. She and her husband Tom attended the Root Bound premier.

Sitting in the same row with her were fellow bloggers Liz Brinton and her husband Nick and Jenny Leo. Other bloggers, Kathy Dobbs, Ana Goodwin and Jennifer Rova, had sent their well wishes prior to the showing. Together the seven of us have been blogging on Writing North Idaho for nearly three years. We all met at the Idaho Writer’s League.  I know it sounds cliche, but their support means the world to me.

WNI Blogettes at Newman Lake retreat in 2011.  From left:
Jennifer Rova, Jenny Leo, Liz Brinton,
Mary Jane Honegger, Nancy Barnes & Kathy Dobbs.
On second thought, I’m going to amend my opening statement. My heady experience was not just in seeing my first screenplay up on the big screen … it was in seeing my first screenplay up on the big screen while surrounded by family and friends who support me as a writer.

With that much support I was already a winner even before the opening credits rolled.  I hope you'll check out a writing support group near you or take a look at the many online networking opportunities for writers.  Good luck!
2013 Root Bound
Audience Choice Award
Sandpoint Film Festival

I would also like to express special thanks
to my husband Larry for his willingness to support
the many extraordinary requests he gets
as a result of my writing career.
Thanks, Hon!


Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

What a lovely, heartwarming and fitting tribute to Idaho Writer's League, Knifves, Writing North Idaho, i.e. the blogettes, and your kind and loving family. We are all thrilled to have been a part of this journey with you. My writing career had ground to a halt, and I worked in a call center with no idea how to rekindle my dreams, until I went back to the charming Jewitt House, got back into I.W.L. and figured out how to re-write my novel. We all give to each other and North Idaho is a wonderful place in which to write. Thanks for your friendship.

Mary Jane Honegger said...

Thanks, Liz. I think many writers have found inspiration at the Jewitt House on Lake Coeur d'Alene, thanks to the Idaho Writer's League. I know I did too.

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Ah, good times. Thanks, MJ!

Kathy Cooney Dobbs said...

Congratulations, Mary Jane on your well deserved award winning screen play! You have always been an inspiration to me, from the first time I chatted with you on the phone about Idaho Writer's League - your words were so welcoming, and ever after filled with encouragement about my writing endeavors i.e. Spokesman Review, Idaho Magazine, and our own Writing North Idaho. Your friendship is a Blessing to me.. Thank you.

Karla Petermann said...

Mary Jane you are a true inspiration. I feel lucky to have met you through kNIFVES, working together on the board of directors through the highs and lows then highs again, with the pay off of watching Root Bound up on the big screen at the film festival. Keep at it girl..we're all waiting to see your next screenplay produced into another terrific film!