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By Janice Alonso

This is my last column for the GWA Website. I have enjoyed the opportunity to share what I have learned and experienced as a published author. I began these columns in 2012 when the GWA sent an email to its membership requesting ideas for a regular column. The email asked that members to submit an idea with a short pitch of how the idea would be developed in each article.
At that point, I had written hundreds of pieces that had appeared in magazines, anthologies, newsletters, zines, and newspapers. However, they had been short stories, inspirational essays, and personal experiences. I’d never written anything about the art/craft of writing.
I hope something I’ve written has taught and encouraged others in their pursuit of writing for publication. I have come away richer from this experience.
1. By having a regular column, I had a reason to be at my computer and write. I receive other assignments for articles, but having an ongoing commitment keeps the creative fires burning.
2. The Writer Within made me develop new writing skills. My short stories are fun and with them my imagination can run rampant. With this set of columns, I’ve had to stay on a path that required me to pay attention to a specific point. I also had to make sure that point remained within the guidelines laid out in the initial GWA email callout.
3. At the outset, I decided to do a series that would break into ten individual columns. I’ve found this exercise challenging as well as fun. This element of the process, writing to a restricted form is unlike my fiction writing.
4. Writing these columns has also led me to other “writing-about-writing” pieces. One of my more meaningful assignments was an article I wrote for the Mystery Writers of America’s newsletter “The Third Degree.” Before the GWA experience, I’m not sure I would have answered that organization’s email callout for a column.
In my third series, “Give Your Writer Resources,” I talked about classes, workshops, writing groups, critique groups, and professional writing organizations. I talked about the pros and cons about each one. The Georgia Writers Association is a wonderful resource for all authors, no matter the skill or experience level. But remember this, no resource is any good if you don’t make use of it. It’s great to say you’re a member of these writing communities, but you need to take the initiative to visit the websites, attend meetings, read the information given, and seriously consider how you can be an active part.
I responded to that email, came up with The Writer Within columns, and submitted my idea. The first article appeared in September 2012. This last article is the seventy-seventh article. It’s time as they say, “to move on.” Thank you to those individuals over the years who have given me this writing opportunity and good luck to all writers – published, on the way to publication, and those “writers within” who have yet to make their debut.

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