Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Long Live the Critique Group

It appears that BNC Writers is dead. So far this year we have had about eighteen meetings. Twice we had three people attend. Three or four times we had only one attend—me as the leader. The rest of the time we had only two. Bessie and I used those times to good advantage. We worked on her missions book, intended to be one of the six annual books for our denomination. Last week we put the finishing touches on her proposal and three sample chapters. The rest of her book is done, subject to minor tweaking and formatting. Also during these times I read chapters from several things I was working on.

But a group of two isn't much of a critique group. Three is immensely better than two. Even Bessie, a very new writer, noticed that it was always better when we had three or more people in attendance.

I started the group back in early 2011. I had lunch with our then-new pastor, Mark, and asked him if he had any objection to me trying to start a writing ministry at church. I thought we would have a core group, as I had already talked with four people about it, and they all showed some degree of interest.

Alas, one can only continue to pump time into a losing effort. With Bessie's book essentially done, and with her not having anything else to share at the moment, it doesn't make sense to tie up two Monday evenings a month for a critique group that barely exists. Bessie and I can continue to share stories and chapters as we have them complete, without needed to formally meet.

We had fifteen people on our mailing list, including four people who didn't attend our church. Seven of those attended at least one meeting in the eighteen months we met. Those four I talked to before approaching the pastor with the idea never attended a meeting. They never promised to, though they all expressed interest in advancing their writing.

After our last meeting on September 17, I sent an e-mail out to the mailing list, suggesting that maybe we didn't need to maintain BNC Writers anymore. Only Bessie responded. To state the cliche, the silence told more than responses would have.

So I guess I'll lay low for a while, keep writing, keep self-publishing, and looking toward the future. Whether a different critique group is in my future remains to be seen.

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