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Writing group re-imagined

Hot off the presses! 

So here I am. Sitting down to write. I have no plan. No outline. No idea what I’m going to write. I’m with two other writers – Lisa and Karen. We are sitting together at Starbucks on a Tuesday night with the goal to just write for 30 minutes. Maybe 50. Two of us talked when we should have been writing. One got here late. But here we are. Laptops open. They look like they are writing. Or thinking. Maybe they’re just procrastinating – oh, I never do that. Noooooo.

The writer’s instrument. (Does that sound pretentious?)

I’ve been meeting with Lisa and Karen (and Debbie, who isn’t here tonight) for years. We critique each other’s work – essays, novels, short stories – once a month. But in the last year or so, we got in the habit of delaying our meetings. Either we had schedule conflicts, or no one had anything to submit. Finding the time to write in our various genres has been a challenge. In my case, the dog ate my homework. So I had an excuse. Har-har-har-har-har-har-har-har-har.

When I have freelance assignments, I write to deadlines, which help me produce literary masterpieces. Kidding about the masterpieces. But deadlines and word counts do make me more productive. When that professional deadline is absent, I’m like Huck Finn along the banks of the lazy Mississippi River. Unproductive, though in my fantasies I’m a best-selling author. The truth is, I wasn’t writing the kinds of things that might get me there. And I certainly wasn’t writing the essays I used to submit to this group. My production level was patchy, if not non-existent.

After emailing with Karen, we thought: maybe we should re-think our group. I had recently attended a writing group I discovered on the website – Grey Wolfe Publishing’s Writing with the Pack. They meet every Wednesday at a Panera Bread in Troy from 7-9:00 pm to write. That’s all they do. I’ve been three times and I like the concept. Group writing. Peer pressure. The old, we’re all in this together thing.  Maybe we could experiment with the format of our critique group. After emailing the other members, we all agreed – let’s give it a go, old chap!

So we’re doing it, we’re writing, and after we will critique the one agreed-upon-in-advance submission – Karen’s.

Epilogue: we all wrote! We liked the format – the 50 minutes turned into an hour but felt like 15 minutes. And we had a great discussion about Karen’s piece, a weeklong writing conference she attended and other matters. We’re meeting again in August. Yee-haw!


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