I Joined a Writing Group. You'll Never Believe What Happened Next.
A few weeks ago, someone mentioned a local writing group. I haven't been in a writing group in years. Not even a virtual one. The last time I "workshopped," as they say, a piece of fiction, I was in grad school. Still, I thought, why not try it? So, I did. Here's why writing groups aren't the worst thing ever.
They Change Your Writing Routine
Is joining a writing group writing? Well, not really. Not technically. Here's what writing is: staring at a computer screen and trying not to chop off your head. Writing groups change that dynamic. I found myself in a room with other human beings talking about writing. This hardly ever happens to me. It reminded me that writing isn't just coughing up words, but also talking about words.
Any Feedback Is Good Feedback
Well, not really! As far as grad school, there's always at least one pretentious asshole who is commenting on your work as a way to telegraph their knowledge about something obscure, complex, and polysyllabic. One thing I liked about my writing group experience is that the same sentences in my fiction I'd felt were sort of off, they thought were sort of off, too. One could say, duh, or one could learn that one should trust one's instincts more when writing.
Freaks Dig Freaks
I had the same feeling in this writing group as I did when I went to speak at the Crossroads
Writers Conference in Macon, GA, a few years ago. Writers talk different. They talk in unnecessarily garbled ways about things other people don't care about. It's nice to be on the same planet as people who speak your language.
Get the Message
I think most writers suffer from some level of Imposter Syndrome. Are you a writer if every publication you submit to rejects you? Are you a writer if you haven't written yet today? Are you a writer if someone tells you that you're an awful writer? It doesn't matter if other people in your writing group think your work sucks or think it's great. They're still telling you that you're a writer. And that's good to remember. Especially when you feel like you aren't.
Readers Think of Stuff Your Dumb Ass Didn't
I submitted THE TUMOR for their consideration. They had interesting ideas about what was in the story and, more importantly, what wasn't in the story. It's hard to say without spoilers (so buy a copy), but, suffice to say, they wanted to know: what was she thinking? and what happened when he faltered? and what if they had done that horrifying thing at the end, then what? That's the kind of shit that expands your creative range and, you hope, stretches you when you sit down again in front of that goddamn blank white glowing screen.
Buy THE TUMOR: "This is one of the weirdest, smartest, most disturbing things you will read this year."