Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Evening at the Writers Critique Group

Last night I attended the writer's critique group in Bella Vista. This is the group that I attended regularly from 2002 to 2007, quit for a while, then attended the another writer's group in more-distant Gravette until March of this year. I spent a few months without attending any writer's group at all, then decided to go back to the old one, and have been a regular since July.

Why did I leave this group in the first place? For one, I was the only person in the group who was trying to be published with a royalty publisher. Everyone else was satisfied with self-publishing. Now there's nothing wrong with self-publishing if it is done well. But obviously the threshold of excellence for royalty publishing is a whole lot higher than for self-publishing. the self-publishing company makes their money in charging set-up fees, not by selling books, so their writing goals tend not to be as high as mine.

But on-line fellowship is not the same as in-person, and I missed being with writers. So I went back to the old group. It meets only a little more than a mile from my house, so getting there and back is a snap. In fact, last night I fell asleep in my reading chair in the time before I needed to leave. Lynda woke me at one minute till seven and said, "Aren't you suppose to be at writers group about now?" I quickly went and was there well before they began sharing.

Some good and bad about the group, which goes by the name of Northwest Arkansas Writers Guild:
  • As I said, most in the group are not striving for royalty publishing, so the outlook on writing tends to be different.
  • I'm the only one in the group who is a serious poet. Two women in the guild write some poetry, but I don't think either studies the art or really works on her craft. One may; I can't tell for sure yet. I gave up bringing poetry to this group a long time before I left it.
  • The ladies all bring snacks to the meetings. This takes quite a bit of time to distribute around the table, with plates and napkins. We meet at an assisted living center, who provide us the meeting room and coffee. I'd prefer we didn't have snacks at all. Without the time given to snacks we could each read five pages instead of four.
  • We don't tend to stick to business. Too much chatting. I don't mind some of that--that's what fellowship's about. But we do too much of it.
  • At times members don't tend to say focused. I won't mention names, just in case one of them should wander in here (quite unlikely). But one has a habit of interrupting the reader with comments that have nothing at all with what is being read. This happens almost every week. Finally, one of the ladies called out the offender this week. She did it nicely, perhaps so nicely that the offender didn't even realize that she was being mildly chastised.
  • I'm the only man in the group. That's not so bad, except I'm the only non-retired person in the group. One woman works, but she rarely attends and will soon be moving away.
  • In general, everyone is polite; we never talk politics; everyone in the group seems to be a practicing Christian (though that's not a requirement); and we never have off-color material to read or listen to.
Well, that's the status of the group. I'll stick with it. It's the closest game in town, and fills a need in my life. Hopefully they find value in my contribution.

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