I attended a new writer’s group last night. There were 13 people attending and I was the only newbie. The group is well established with a 30 year history.
Introductions were made around the table and 6 people read their pieces of writing. The author reads their piece aloud and the rest of us follow along with a copy provided by the author. Sign ups are provided ahead of time through email.
There were a variety of readings. One woman read Chapter 4 of her novel, one woman read a poem about texting, one essay about a sale and snowmobile ride (quite funny), one essay on holding hands, a short story about a bazooka bubble gum knife, and an essay about fishing.
There was some light critique, some more well received than others. Copies are written on then passed back to the author. I figured this part of the process out after the 4th reading!
One author specifically asked for us listen for a particular craft aspect before he read which I appreciated. I always find it easier to give feedback when given a direction.
Overall it was nice. The meeting lasted 2 hours and is held in meeting rooms at the county library. It is impressive that a group that has been around for 30 years still has several of the founding members attending.
It was refreshing to hear other people read their work. With it being my first time, I just listened. There was some side conversation with the 3 ladies sitting by me which was pleasant.
Everyone talked about their writing as something they are really compelled to do whether paid or not. Several writers expressed their difficulty in finishing projects.I do believe it is the right group for me and I will be attending the next meeting. I have to pick something carefully for the first reading because my stories tend to be dark or strange, and I do not want to concern anyone. They need to get to know me a bit first.
As I was thinking about this new group I was reflecting on the writers group experiences I have had in the past. Most of my writer contact is online now. These other groups were not purely writing groups so in my mind I put them in a slightly different category than the one I attended last night.
More than 15 years ago I took a journaling class that was held at an independent bookstore I frequented. The group clicked so well we continued to meet after the official class was over. The leader of the group graciously opened her home and we meet for many years after that initial meeting. We met through births, sickness, the bookstore closing, and changes of jobs. The form of writing was informal so there wasn’t any critique. The food was always fantastic! Christmas time there was the best blank journal exchange you have ever seen!
I still talk to the leader of the group although the calls and texts span between larger and larger blocks of time. We even co-taught a journal writing class for young girls at the United Way. The leader and I attended a few writing events over the years but none of them ever felt right for us individually or as a pair.
I also was invited to join a writing event sponsored through a writing group 5 years ago. There were sessions on a Saturday morning. I met my friend Jane and started to meet with her Book Club but we didn’t talk about writing so much after that first event. We were both gravitated toward each other during the potluck after the sessions were over. We both liked what the other said when we intro-ed ourselves in the first session. She is a smart woman and always interesting to talk to, especially about books.
I hope this new group has the longevity of the other groups I have been honored to be a part of. I feel like it was the right time for me to find them. I will keep you all posted!