Before I moved abroad to Taiwan, I would sometimes take part in one-day writers’ workshops and sit in with writers groups on the recommendation of friends. However, I never really committed to them. I could speculate that it had to do with anything from too many egos in one room, to my own cripplingly low self-esteem about my own ability to write.
In 2015, I learned about a group in Taipei called the Taipei Writers Group (TWG). One of my co-workers was a member. TWG is comprised of local Taiwanese and expat writers. Some people write just for fun, while others are professional authors with published books. The writers of TWG cross multiple genres, from poetry and memoirs to literary fiction and science fiction. A couple of the writers write screenplays, others specialize in short stories, and still others write novels. Everyone is passionate about developing their abilities in writing and storytelling.
Every Sunday night, TWG meets in a café near one of the subway stops in downtown Taipei. We claim several tables that can be pushed together, pull up chairs, and order cups of coffee and tea and plates of snacks. We go around the table and exchange feedback and comments about each other’s work. Every week, if a writer wants to share something they’ve been working on, we put a 4000-word excerpt into the group’s Dropbox. Other members can read the submissions and prepare professional feedback, which is shared at the meeting. There is a “no arguments over the feedback” rule, which encourages the writers to do what they wish with the comments they receive.
We come from different walks of life, and we use our life experiences in our writing. We encourage each other, and we treat each other with professional courtesy. That’s how I knew that TWG was not a typical writers’ group.
In addition, TWG meetings involve bigger group projects, such as group anthologies and group appearances at book conferences or launch parties. This gives members a chance to be involved in the publicity and marketing aspects of the writing industry. At this time, TWG has four published anthologies to its credit: Taiwan Tales, which is about life in Taiwan; Night Market, a collection of short stories based around the eponymous staple of Taiwanese culture; Peak Heat, a dystopian anthology about global warming; and Twisted Fairy Tales for Adults, where the authors played with assorted fairy tales.
Since I joined TWG, I have met some incredible people who love the written word as much as I do. We come from different walks of life, and we use our life experiences in our writing. We encourage each other, and we treat each other with professional courtesy. That’s how I knew that TWG was not a typical writers’ group. I’ve been published in two of the anthologies (Peak Heat and Twisted Fairy Tales for Adults), which has been a dream of mine since childhood. I’ve honed some of my editing and critiquing skills by reading other works. I feel I’ve been able to grow my confidence as a writer through this group, to the point that I’ve branched out to other publications and projects. Since most of the group members are expats, we are able to use our shared experiences of living in another country to fuel our creativity and support each other. I expand my reading tastes and read the books that some members have published outside of TWG, to show my support and to enjoy new authors. I feel that TWG is a writers group like no other, because while we write and share feedback, we work together to get each other published. We learn a lot about the writing and the publishing process.
A memory that is important to me is of us writing together at a local café, while we were working on getting Twisted Fairy Tales for Adults together. Quite a few of us were stalling on the writing and a deadline for a draft was approaching quickly. A group of us got together and started sharing the ideas for our stories, and before too long, a beautiful brainstorming and writing session was in full swing! It showed me what I love most about this group: we are all here for each other!
Finding My Voice Through My Writers’ Group in Taiwan