A Toast to the Wiffers!

From the time I was in High School, or maybe even since I was in Junior High, I’ve said that someday, I would write a book. Other than having children and being a mom, it was the only other thing I was certain I wanted to do in my life. Trouble was, I could never figure out how one went about writing a novel. It always seemed like such an enormous task. For years, I entertained this idea I had for a terrific story, but how to get it down on paper? I wasn’t sure if I should start at the beginning and write until I got to the end, or if I should just write random scenes and then try to string them together in some sort of order. And then, if I DID start at the beginning, where exactly would that be? I read book after book about writing, some of them good, most of them pretty bad, trying to figure out just how to go about this task I’d set out to do. I kept hoping I’d eventually find THE book that held the key to help me get it done. I found one or two that came close, but none of them really did the trick.

Then one day, I was browsing iTunes for some new podcasts  (I like to listen to podcasts while I do housework) and I came across one called “Will Write for Wine“. Writing … WINE? Needless to say, it caught my eye immediately. It was a weekly one hour podcast hosted by two women writers and best friends, Lani Diane Rich and Samantha Graves, who would sit around drinking wine and talk about writing — Not in a “look at us, we’re big shot published authors who know it all” way, but in a “hey, this is what worked for us, maybe it will work for you … and in the mean time, let’s just get together and laugh” way. At the beginning of the show, they’d each tell about the wine they were drinking that night, rate the wine, make fun of the wine notes (what do they mean by “notes of old saddle leather” does that mean it tastes like ass?) and precede to talk about a different writing topic each week, while sipping their wine and getting more tipsy & giggly as the show went on. The topics covered all aspects of novel-writing, from craft to process to publishing. Every so often they would do a “movie night” featuring movies such as “The Princess Bride” and “Finding Nemo” where they’d pull it apart piece by piece, pointing out such things as the GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) and the BBM (Big Black Moment). These ladies were so funny, often times I’d laugh out loud, making my family start to wonder, “What’s with mom? She’s in the bathroom scrubbing the toilet and laughing!”

In October of 2007, they did a show featuring the upcoming NaNoWriMo challenge. NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) is annual online challenge each November to write 50,000 words in one month. It was the way one of the hosts, Lani, finally got around to writing her first novel. The idea is to focus on getting the words down on paper without editing. I thought, what the heck, I’d try it. I didn’t make it to 50,000 words, but I wrote over 30,000. That next June, I participated in another challenge called SoCNoC (Southern Cross Novel Challenge) which is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of NaNoWriMo. Again, I pumped out a little over 30k words. I finished up this past November with another 30,000 words for NaNoWrimo 2008.

During the first NaNoWriMo challenge I participated in, Lani & Sam were kind enough to create a forum for their fans who were participating in the challenge to get together and encourage each other to keep going. Out of the forum, the WIFFERS were born. “Wiffers” is the term  for any of the fans of the podcast. Most of us are writers, but some are just fans of the show who, for whatever reason, like to hang out with writers. Most of us are women, but there are a few brave men in the mix. Over the past year, I’ve gotten to know a lot of them and a more fun group you will never meet. I only wish that someday, we can all get together in person. One thing is for sure, without their kindness and support, I would have never gotten this far. And when Oprah picks my book for her book club, they’re all coming with me to the show! 

Unfortunately, Lani & Sam stopped doing the podcast a few months ago, for reasons we all (try to) understand, but I know I’m not the only one who misses it. They still hang around in the forums with us all, and just this last month, surprised us with a special holiday edition of the show. If you’re interested, all the shows are still available to download from iTunes or the Will Write for Wine website. If you listen to them, and you get hooked like I did, the forums are still going strong and there’s always room for more! And … you’ll find out why I always say “Drink!” after the word “Awesome!”

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coffeegirl88
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 02:33:50

    Before the Wiffer forums I didn’t realize just how alone I was in my little corner of the world. The only people I had around me who wrote all fell for that “waiting for the muse to flap her gossamer wings” crap. Either that or they had no real clue what getting published involved and actually tried to get me to self publish “because how the hell else do you do it?”

    Yeah, I love you guys and am thrilled we’ve continued beyond the podcasts.

    Long live the Wiffers!!!

  2. kimberlyfoley
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 02:37:48

    Coffee Girl – you just brought a tear to my eye. I can’t even begin to tell you all how special you are to me! Cheers!

  3. Brenda Bradshaw
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 13:17:59

    Long live the Wiffers!

  4. Ilana
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 13:59:52

    Its a great group.
    And I was in much the same boat as you, trying to start a novel but no quite knowing how, when I found WWfW.
    Now I have 2 completed novels.
    Wouldn’t it be cool if we all get to meet on the set of Oprah? All we need to do is get one Wiffer there…

  5. Nobilis
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 14:27:30

    For those of you who miss WWFW, some friends and I have stepped up to do something similar. Now we’re focused on our genre (erotica) but a lot of the things we talk about will be useful for any author. For now, we’re doing our podcast monthly, but that may increase in the future.

    You can find our communal blog at thewritethreesome.blogspot.com (which includes the podcast episodes) or you can get the feed at thegoodparts.libsyn.com. I *think* we’re on iTunes, but haven’t had a chance to check yet.

  6. Davina
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 15:47:42

    Yay for the Wiffers! I’ve sometimes lost my way a bit, but the fact is that whenever I’m back in the Wiffer fold I feel so much more inspired – and get soooo much more done! – than when I’m not. On those occasions when I’ve wandered off, though, I’ve really missed that support network. Long live the Wiffers indeed!

  7. Jennifer
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 17:18:28

    Wow! What a great post. You’ve summed it up so nicely. I feel very lucky to be part of such a great group of writers, yourself included. The support, advice, and general crazy antics have been a welcome tonic to the rest of my life, which is very much about everything BUT writing. So I’ll throw my voice in with the crowd . . . Long live the wiffers!

  8. Melina
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 23:52:56

    Aww, Kim, I really needed that.

    It’s truly amazing, isn’t it? I’ve been listening since the very first episode, but I only found it because I was reading Lani’s blog and the Literary Chicks blog. I wasn’t really a writer. And then there was NaNo. . . and now I have 1.5 books written. Hmm.

    But more importantly, I’ve met the most awesome (drink!) people ever!

    Thanks for the great post!

  9. kimberlyfoley
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 00:51:23

    Thanks for all the kind words, everybody! I’ve long believed that if you have a wish and you follow your heart, you will be led to whatever or whoever you need to help you make that wish come true. This is definitely the case with WWFW and all the wonderful Wiffers!

    Nobilis – thanks for the heads up! I’ve enjoyed listening to your podcasts and audiobooks. I will be sure to look up your new endeavor!

  10. Pam
    Jan 27, 2009 @ 17:48:37

    I get to go with you to Oprah! Whee!!! Just tell me when and I’ll be packed and ready to go!

    So how is the book/writing/sanity going? 😉

  11. kimberlyfoley
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 21:12:46

    Pam – You bet you’re going to Oprah with me! I won’t go unless she lets you all on the set with me! Serious! As a heart attack, even!

    Writing/Book/Sanity going as well as expected, I guess, considering all the chaos that is my life. Good to see you!

  12. Mac
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 14:56:17

    Great post Kim. Awesome *drink* summation of our group. I’m pretty sure most Wiffers have a similar take.

    As I read the comments, I think I see a thread forming; if I skew things in my brain just right. The Wiffers are marching on Harpo studios for a coup de’ literature. Will Oprah read genre fiction, out loud, to her audience? I would so love to see that. 😉

  13. Sue Morton
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 15:29:35

    I just read your blog for the first time and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in thinking can I do it? ME? Who’s always wrote but never took myself seriously, could I actually put enough in writing for people to appreciate? Thanks to your optimisim, I’m going to try to do the same!

    Thanks also for pointing me to the podcast, I”m downloading the episodes now!

  14. kimberlyfoley
    Mar 04, 2009 @ 22:38:55

    Sue! You just made my day … Thank You! I’m so glad you are downloading the podcasts; I guarantee you will not be disappointed! Come join us in the forums, there’s always a party going on in there!

    Now I’m off to explore your blog!

  15. Alpana
    Mar 05, 2009 @ 17:10:48

    Oh my goodness, the universe has placed your blog in my sight for a reason!(I just began blogging 2 days ago) WOW! I realize this is so cliche’, but I am not alone. I am so excited to know and learn about the podcast, “Will Write for Wine.” I am crazy for reds and I am an amateur writer. Sometimes, it is so difficult for me to even BEGIN, fear of not getting it right, paralyzes me at times and I’m a great procrastinator! You have a family, a business, and kids and you still MAKE yourself write. My expectations cripple me sometimes. I know writing is my passion, what I am good at, finally after years of searching. But why is it so difficult?

  16. kimberlyfoley
    Mar 06, 2009 @ 04:35:28

    ALPANA! — You don’t know how much it means to when people find my blog and give me a comment like that! A huge reason I started this blog was to encourage others like myself. Yes, I do believe the universe brings us to exactly the place we need to be when we let go and follow our hearts!

    Writing is so difficult because it is so very, very personal. It’s like pouring your soul on to a platter and handing it over to someone to do what they will with it. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of trust to put your writing out there for the world to see. But if you don’t do it, you’ll never get that message across that only YOU can relay. I hope you check out the Will Write For Wine podcasts and join us in the forums. We will welcome you with open arms, my friend.

  17. Trackback: Day 17: Why & When Did I Start Blogging? | Kimberly Foley

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