Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making It Right with The Last Word by Jessica Ferguson

When I was a kid, my mom popped me in the face many times because I’d poke my chin toward her with ‘a last word.’ So here I am again—right or wrong—having my last word.

In December Pam and Randy told the new officers that they’d received complaints that BWG wasn’t meeting the needs of the members. Pam shared this with me during our three-hour coffee at Starbucks a few weeks ago. Of course, when I defended my reign as prez and my exceptional board of officers, Pam assured me she wasn’t talking about my two year reign. I’m not sure when BWG didn’t meet the membership’s needs, but I’ll address my two years in office only.

When I became BWG president, I was determined to do everything different from previous years. My plan was to throw the kitchen sink at you—make everything so available and at your fingertips that you couldn’t help but learn, be energized and motivated, write, get published and rush to bestseller lists.

We had regular speakers. Please note: the speakers we bring in are not for our entertainment. Their purpose is to share their experiences with us, answer our questions so that we can learn from their successes and mistakes. They aren’t there to sell their books though that’s one way we repay them for their preparation and spending their Saturday with us.

We also started the Members Only contest. Some of you know I don’t believe in contests with only two entries and awarding the best of the worst. Our guidelines were specific and stated that each of our three categories must have no less than five entries. I deemed the contest a success because we had a few more than 20 entries and each one received critiques from three judges from various parts of the country. Whether or not you got good comments, something you could use from your judges, is another matter altogether. The point was for you to take advantage of entering a contest, learn to follow specific guidelines and see critiques from someone other than close friends.

Market information (hard copies) was furnished to each member at every BWG meeting—at no expense to BWG.

We also started the BWG blog so our members could experience writing short blog posts in an encouraging, non-threatening environment. The purpose of blogging isn’t for our own entertainment; it’s to get your name out there and to prepare you for promoting your work.

During 2010 we repeated much of what we had done during 2009 with the addition of Gator Bites, a way to get each of you a byline, and promote BWG and our writing at our conference.

While doing all of the above, we also started a critique group that meets each Thursday from 10-12 at Stellar Beans. A second critique group meets in the evenings at Village Coffee for those of you who work during the day.

In hindsight, at least in my eyes, Bayou Writers’ Group looks like a very professional organization—a group any writer would want to join and particpate in. It looks like a group that nurtures its members--and meets their needs.

So, in a nutshell, here’s my last word: If BWG did not meet your needs during my reign as president, then I’ll critique you, edit you, encourage you, send you market info, and be your writing coach for the next two years. BUT FIRST, I will check your attendance record (yes, I have it) and review your involvement in BWG. After all, if you don’t put anything into the writing jar, then you sure as heck don’t get anything out of it.

So there you have it. If you faithfully participated in BWG activities and events during my reign as president, and we didn't meet your needs, honestly, something is wrong. I want to make it right. Let me hear from you.

Jessica Ferguson is the author of The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes w/a Jessica Travis. She is published in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul, Daily Devotions for Writers and a number of regional magazines and newspapers in Louisiana and Texas.


  1. Okay before you respond, please realize that this post isn't about ME and whether I was a good president. I'm not fishing for compliments; I'm satisfied with what I did and gave to the membership.

    This post is about YOU and if BWG as a whole, met your needs during my years as prez. That was my personal goal and that's what I preached to my board members: We wanted to help YOU reach YOUR goals. If we didn't, then we failed. I want to know why. Your fault or ours?

    If you ARE one of my board members, then we probably didn't meet your needs because we were too busy working for others. :) Just know you're precious to me and I thank you for all your help and encouragement.

  2. Well, let me get a word in edgewise. (I have a hard time letting someone else have the last word.) I have been blessed and inspired by what BWG has offered me, and I have been encouraged and motivated by your personal support. That’s all I have to say about that. :)

  3. Since I have been here for less than 2 years I have only experienced the good. BWG is fun place where we are given an opportunity to contribute and to grow as a writer.

    I remember in some of my classes at the university that I had student reviews from same class that would say that I the worst teacher and others that would say that I was the best teacher. I assume that just did not meet the needs of some of the students or they didn't come to my office for help.

    Our needs are all different. I believe that if my need is not being met that I have a responsibility to let someone know and perhaps help to fill that same need for others.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. As a romance writer (cough...cough...I know...) I've been to RWA affiliated group meetings that don't have as good turn outs as BWG does. I was blown away by the very first meeting I attended. Since I've become a member, I have nothing but good to say about the entire experience.

  5. Bob & I wandered into our first BWG meeting three years ago - just to look, mind you. We've received so much encouragement, found new friends, learned boatloads of writing skills, heard great speakers and benefited from group knowledge. The Christmas Party is fun too.
    I think we'll stick around. ;-)