Thursday, June 16, 2011
A maddeningly solitary activity
I have twice tried to join a writers' group. For those of you who think that sounds like a support group, well I guess it is in a way, but really it is a critique group: a small number of writers who read and comment on each other's work. It seems like every novel I read contains an acknowledgments page that mentions the wonderful writers' group without whom the author could never have produced such a masterpiece (a fabricated example: "For my sisters at WeLoveWritingAndDarkAngels4Eva- you gave me the strength to keep going when I just wanted to gorge myself on rice cakes and kill off all my characters in tanning bed accidents."). I want that. Well I want that without having to ever eat a rice cake. I love to read and I read incredibly quickly so I feel like I could be an invaluable member to a group of other aspiring or current YA or MG writers (or any kind of fiction writer, really). And I am almost physically hungry for feedback on my own writing. I have a core group of truly dazzling family members and friends, led by my beautiful sister Caitlin, who read everything I write and lavish praise on it, but everyone who writes knows that there is no substitute for the critical feedback you can get from someone who a) doesn't love you to pieces and b) also lives and breathes writing. However, my two attempts to find such a group ended in defeat. The stories are too pathetic to share in their entirety, but suffice it to say that two existing groups did not accept me as a member. There were no failed auditions or anything, they just never responded to me. It's like being told you can't sit at someone's lunch table while you're standing there with a tray. So, my goal for this summer is to find a writers' group that will let me sit at the lunch table.