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.