Those of you who’ve been following this blog for awhile know that my experience with writing groups has not been exactly positive. There is one very strong “pro” in favor of these groups, however–I have always met some great people, whether the group has been on-line or in-person.
Two of my dearest friends, Ev and Jan, both came from writing groups of a sort. Ev, a writer from Terrace, British Columbia, became a very close friend when we were both members of an iVillage writing forum. We had so much in common, it was like we were separated at birth! I met Jan, who lives in Langley, at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, and liked her instantly. It was a fantastic year when Ev was able to come to SIWC, too, and meet up with Jan and I. Now she attends every year, while Jan and I are a lot tougher to pin down.
And how different my life would be without Rick, my best friend from the Whodunit Mystery Writer’s Group! Neither of us attend meetings any longer–Rick now writes plays (his first Fringe effort, Recycled, debuts at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival next week), but we still get together every month to discuss writing and anything else that suits us.
So as much as I’ve experienced pain (two of my smaller writing groups began to meet without me–one because I’d obtained an agent and was perceived to have “moved up to a different level” and the other because I was hesitant about adding a new member); annoyance (there will always be some know-it-alls and bores in larger, more inclusive groups); and humiliation (nothing better than having a know-it-all bore harshly critique your work), I’d say the good outweighs the bad. Writing is one of the most isolating pursuits in the world. It’s just so damn lonely a lot of the time. Having a group of people–or even one or two–that are going through the same experience can make all the difference. We all need someone to cheer us on and hold us accountable, especially since writers tend to approach writing as my friend Ev eloquently described: “Writing is both what I love to do best and what I most strenuously attempt to avoid.”
Tell me about it! I struggle with that every single day. And that struggle would get a little easier with some partners in crime. So I’m starting a new writing group. So far, there’s only three members: myself; my friend Perry, who writes children’s fiction and who is easily one of the happiest, most positive people I’ve ever met; and Dee-Dee, another good-hearted, talented refugee from the Whodunit Writer’s Group. The hope is to keep it small (no more than five people, especially if we’re going to be reading each other’s work), and confined to writers who are very serious about getting published.
So we’ll see how it goes. As Perry said, there’s a little voice inside my brain saying “nooo! Don’t do it! You already have too much on your plate!”, but the lure of regularly communing with like-minded people is too strong to resist. The plan is to meet at least once this summer to decide on specifics. I’ll keep you posted.
Ever been in a like-minded group, be it a meeting of writers, scientists, musicians, artists, etc? What were your experiences?
To bed at: Midnight
Awake at: 8:10
Pages written: TBD
Verdict: So far, I suck!