Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Writing Groups

By Tracy Kiely

I have a list of things I should do. Joining a writing critique is one item. Some other items on the list include learning another language, composting, growing my own tomatoes, and eating healthier. I know that all of these things would improve various aspects of my life. I also know that the chances of me ever doing any of these ranks up there with getting hit by lightening twice and winning the lottery.
The sad fact is that I am lazy.
I am fairly certain that I am missing what I like to call the Organization Gene. I am forever running behind schedule. I write long To Do lists, but never seem to finish anything on them. I get distracted and then find myself starting a completely different project. For instance, the other day I went to put my husband’s shoes away and 45 minutes later found myself arranging his shirts by color. This waste of time is all the more ludicrous when you factor in that my husband is color blind. Just until recently he thought peanut butter was green. There was no way that he was going to appreciate that that his shirts now hung from hues of white to blue to green to pink.  In fact, I don’t think he realized he had a pink shirt until I pointed it out on my freaking color scale.
So, even though I would love to get feedback from other writers on my work, I don’t belong to a group. I simply don’t trust myself to fulfill my end of the bargain. I fear that each meeting would be like that reoccurring nightmare where you suddenly find yourself back in high school, only to realize that you not only haven’t been to class in six weeks, but that today is the final exam.
Another problem I would have with being in such a group is that it’s really hard to for me to tell someone that I don’t like their work. Years ago I took a mystery writing class at the local community college. Each week, we’d bring in our chapters and sometimes we’d share them with the class. A few of us this kept up after the class had ended. We’d read each other’s stuff on line and offer suggestions.  I had a really hard time with some of these reviews, either because I really disliked the genre or I didn’t like the writing.  I eventually dropped out of the group because I didn’t think it was fair to ask others to read and honestly critique my work if I couldn’t do the same for them.
Now would I recommend others to join a group? Absolutely. Other writers can help you out of a plot hole, offer suggestions, listen, and sympathize with writer’s block and a host of other writing related insecurities. They can help make your writing stronger and you more confident.
They probably compost and grow their own tomatoes, too.  Some people are just good like that.

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