Saturday, September 01, 2007

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Writer's Group

As I sit at the keyboard, sipping on some decent Scotch (with soda, or I'll have twelve headaches tomorrow) it occurs to me that I have not mentioned that I recently joined a writer's group.

So, just to be official: I recently joined a writer's group.

There are five of us. There's Nicole, and Greg, both of whom I have mentioned here on occasion. There's me, who has also come up here once or twice. Dave and Charles, who I met for the first time at our inaugural meeting last Tuesday, round out the group.

This is my first writer's group. I've always been a little skittish in the past about them, and I can't quite articulate why. No, not because of the Scotch. ::)

I think I've always, on some level, suspected writer's groups of being glorified social clubs, venues for people to noodle over vanity projects and feel like Capital-W Writers. Places to talk about "writing", instead of talking about the work.

This is, patently, an absurd notion. Many well-known writers have benefitted from being part of writer's groups, including writers that I enjoy and admire. Steven Brust was in a writer's group. Cory Doctorow too. J. R. R. Tolkien was in a writer's group with C. S. Lewis for crying out loud - the legendary Inklings.

So perhaps the concerns I had about writer's groups were really concerns that I projected on to them. Concerns about myself. I do have this tendency to let planning get in the way of action, process get in the way of practice.

I don't think that's going to be a concern with the new group.

The group - we don't have a cool name like "The Inklings" yet - was Nicole's brainchild, and she was very clear from the get-go that she wanted a small, focused group of writers, working on longform projects, whose feedback would be beneficial to the other members.

Based on the outcome of our first meeting, it looks like her plan was a good one.

Greg and I are the odd men out, since the other three are all working on novels. I'm working on a new film script, and Greg... well, I shouldn't steal his thunder. He's got a non-novel, non-film thing.

I got really solid feedback on my outline, and I think - I hope! - that I was as helpful to the others. I'm looking forward to our next meeting, in late September. My work will next be up for review at the meeting after that, in October.

I think, having finished an entire screenplay - the new one that I haven't blogged about yet - and having realized just how hungry I am to write and better my writing, that my concerns about writer's groups have evaporated. The anxieties about my own productivity are fading away, and don't need to be projected any longer onto organizations that, after all, are only as good or bad as the people in them.

I seem to have gotten myself into a very good one. This bodes well.

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