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Conversations With Friends (Who Are Also Writers)

nytimes.com – Thursday December 19, 2019

Jenny Zhang was in sweatpants, wrestling one Sunday afternoon with a short story that wasn’t coming together. She typed out an email to seven other writers: “Yo. Can we meet up next week? I have something that I kinda semi-urently” — the g key on her keyboard was broken — “need help on.”

The story, which jumped back and forth between plotlines, was intentionally nontraditional, and she didn’t want to lose that. The peers whose advice she sought, she said, “would let the jagged edges remain” while making the story “better than it was.” When she met with them, they helped her find the thread in the story, which she finished and included in her 2017 book “Sour Heart.”

Writing is often considered a solitary act, but some writers have figured out a way to make the process more collaborative even before editors, agents and other publishing professionals get involved. Zhang’s group, which includes Alice Sola KimKaran Mahajan and Tony Tulathimutte, has been meeting about every month since most of them were undergraduate students at Stanford University. Their sessions are highly structured, with deadlines for submitting drafts and detailed manuscript notes, while other groups gather more informally to talk about their careers, commiserate over deadlines or gossip about the publishing industry.

To read the full article on nytimes.com, click here

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