Just gotta love 'em

I meet with three writing groups, each made up of different people. Yep. Different.

The weekly afternoon group gathers in a church classroom. At least half of the writers are at least my mom’s age.

Even the younger ones react uncomfortably to stories lacking a moral message. “Maybe you shouldn’t leave that ending so ambiguous…” Important to them is finding ways to give the world God’s principles, with simplicity, tact, and good grammar. No ambiguity.

I appreciate and respect these writers. They encourage me, even when my prose comes across to them as weird.

They remind me to edit hads and thats and –ings. I gain much from their stories, like the one about a family Christmas when snow blew between cracks into a Southern shanty, and how a wife loves her husband’s quirky habits, and what a mother felt, clinging to her son newly home from Vietnam.

The every-three-weeks group trades locations between Eugene and Salem. Writers in demand by publishers and agents join in critique with comparative greenhorns like me.

Most in the membership hold political views a shade different from mine. They wouldn’t mind seeing our President burned in effigy, if not at the stake.

I get a kick from some of the satiric barbs in their conversation, and I come to see reasons for opposing viewpoints in their heartfelt written efforts.

They cheer our member who’s had 35 rejections since January. “Welcome to the real world,” they say. Applauding my recent bit of success, they don’t mince words in reminders to “show, don’t tell.” And they don’t let me ramble too long when I aim to make some point about fiction of which I know squat.

The once a month or so group gets hosted by friends from my church in our different homes. We’ve gathered and sampled one guy’s home brewed beer. We’ve sat on a back porch at sunset in blossom-perfumed breezes, listening to rough excerpts from a journal. We’ve said, “You should develop that.”

One night we listened to chapters from a book the author never wishes to sell, and they made us all ache to visit the coastal small-town world so eloquently described.

This writing group can frustrate my sensibilities. Often we end up giggling and making snarky comments. Rarely are we down to business.

But like holidays with family I’ll never give this one up. Because when the people do at last settle into comfortable poses around someone’s living room, they listen. They respond. Deep affirmation abounds. In their souls, whether or not very often on paper, they’re compassionate thinkers and dreamers, writers as much as the rest.

Comments

sufferingsummer said…
you made me long for home made beer sweet scented back porches and writers...oh how I miss writers.
Deanna said…
Hi, Summer. I know they'll find you.
Cecily said…
don't you love the variety in people and groups and viewpoints. Stimulating!