You guys! I did it! I went to my first ever writer's group! It was crazy awesome! There were men and women of all different beliefs and persuasions and hair colors and varying degrees of cynicism and talent and cleanliness! But we all had one thing in common. We love to write. I felt in my element. There used to be a time in my life when I didn't want to be around anyone that was different from me. The unknown was too scary. Now I want to hug the unknown because I have something in common with it. What's more I have so very much to learn from it! Which, could have gone without saying since you have to learn from something that was heretofore unknown.
So here's how it went down. The meetings take place in one of the best places on earth. The library. Seriously, I love the library. LOVE it. I get excited to go there every single time. It also makes me calm, which is my favorite way to feel (besides in love). I could almost pretend I was just walking in to check out yet another amazing YA book filled with smoochin' until I had to walk to the very back of the library, turn a corner to the left, find a little tucked away room with nothing but two long tables and people of various degrees of unknown origins. Gasp!
They were so accepting. That's how you get, I venture, when you repeatedly pick up a piece of paper on which you've typed out your heart and soul and you proceed to read it aloud to people with the express intention of having them cover it with red ink. *muffled sob*
I listened as the first woman read an excerpt from a novel she's working on. Then I listened as a handful of people critiqued someone's work from two weeks previous. I started to figure out the cruel nature of their set-up. :) You read, and you get the critiques at the next meeting. This is mostly great because it means that your wonderful helpers take two weeks to think over your work and suggest improvements.
This pattern continued. I listened to every comment with smiles and nods. I understood their language. Their suggestions to each other weren't foreign or surprising, even though their personalities were. It was clear right away that they were all of very different beliefs, but it was also clear even sooner that they had a great respect for each others' beliefs. I listened as people were hard on each other, yet kind at the same time. I listened to good-natured teasing and laughter. I was fairly mesmerized.
Then the man in charge looked at me and told me to read what I had. *GULP* Some stronger version of Amie took over my body because I picked up my paper and I started reading. I was in the alley with my Main Character. I was reading in a way that would make him proud.... trying to let them hear who he is. They were quiet. I thought I could sense them liking it, but only heaven knows! Now I have two stinking weeks to wait until I find out. Cue Ryan Seacrest saying, "...and we'll find out... right after the break." Cue my imagination punching him in his perfect nose.
Today I sent a copy of what I had read to the group by email with this message:
I want to tell you guys that I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting on Wednesday! It felt amazing to be around other writers! It's flat killing me, though, to think I have to wait two weeks for anyone to tell me whether my writing has potential or not. ;) There should be extended rules for new people. Put them out of their immediate misery with either applause, or fruit throwing.
Anxiously awaiting your thoughts (and I think I might throw up),
Last night I dreamed that I had joined a gourmet cooking group. I had to take a turn cooking a three course meal and then critique the dishes others cooked. I remember desperately trying to come up with something smart to say like, "Maybe it could use a little oregano." I have never critiqued anyone.... okay, besides my immediate family. I really don't know how to be critical of someone's creative work. One man last night quoted Stephen King, who wrote an amazing book about writing (that being the only book of his that I've actually read). The man said that King tries to do at least one of three things every day. 1)Read 2)Write 3)Critique. Each of these improves our writing. I knew about the first two, but I had never considered that critiquing someone else could help me. I thought it was just a necessary evil so that I could get help with my own work. See how I'm learning already???
Dear readers of this blog, hang in with me. Tune in after the commercials. I'll let you know if they think my writing just needs a pinch of oregano... or a whole new recipe.