Personalities You Find at a Writers’ Group
I have been in the market for a writers’ group. I envisioned what they talked about when I went to the Writer’s Digest conference last August. Namely, a group of like-minded individuals spending their afternoons in coffee shops or each other’s homes writing their masterpieces with the loving critique of their fellow group members massaging your work to be agent ready. Everyone gets published and they live fabulous lives. The end.
I tried getting a group together using my contacts on the interwebs. I have hundreds of friends who are writing blogs and aspire to write a manuscript. I thought I had a group but discovered that no day for the foreseeable future was going to work for all of us and it was disbanded before it got started.
I did remember that one of the participants at the conference had met their group of writers at the library, so I poured through the book of groups getting together at my local branch. If I wanted to learn ukulele or read Polish, I’d be all set. I did find a few after googling “Toronto Public Library Writers Groups.” One such group, I enjoy every Monday and will be featured in my 15-minute Monday blogs from now on. As lovely as the group is though, it is not what I need.
I also discovered a website called Meet-Up in my desperation and found a few gems and a bunch of rough stones there too. In the process, there were a lot of personalities I encountered. To be clear, this is not me judging these personality types, I want to meet people of all kind. Writers need fodder and inspiration. Getting that from your desktop and your dog is hard.
“I am going to write the greatest novel ever written.”
This is an actual quote upon my first meeting with this confident chap. Hey, it may well be true. And, you can’t help but love a guy with such belief in himself that he can make that statement without a shred of irony. I actually hope he does write the most excellent novel ever written. I will be in line for a signed copy and a wink wishing I had bet on that horse when he was in chapter one.
“I don’t write, but I want to.”
This was very common at many of the groups I went to. It is like fat-shaming a large person out running, but it looks more like walking. Dammit! They are trying to make something happen, and they don’t know how tough it is yet but good on them for having the dream and taking the first step, metaphorically or physically.
“I am not writing a memoir, but my kids want me to write down my stories, so I’m doing this to get them off my back.”
Two of the groups I attended were filled with people translating memoir to be memories. When the stories were read aloud, they were a mish-mash of words jumbled together to form an almost complete thought without an introduction to who uncle Jerome was and why he wasn’t wearing pants. Of the 15-minute read I wanted to hear about Uncle Jerome but it must have already been family folklore because it was not included. Instead, I heard about a tea set where everyone was, apparently, wearing pants. As my friend from the south would say, “Bless Your Heart.”
“Don’t ask me.”
This is my favourite person in the group. They come to writers’ groups and dutifully hear all that others have to say, and when asked what genre they write in or what they are working on the answer is, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Now I desperately want to know! Is it porn? Is he researching writers’ groups to write a book and doesn’t want to reveal his plan? Is he ghostwriting for Stephen King who is in a coma somewhere after a tragic writers’ block incident? Is now really the time to be picking off your nail polish? So. Many. Questions.
“I’m just writing for me, and I don’t want to share.”
That’s pretty awesome. So why did you come to a writers’ group where we all share? What am I missing?
“I like to hear myself talk. Can you hear me talking? Listen to my talking.”
Given a prompt, they don’t write about it. Asked to read what they have written during our prompt-writing time and they don’t refer to their notes, or if they do refer to their notes, it is only briefly to say something to the effect of, “I didn’t have time to edit this.” I didn’t have time for a full edit either, but it wouldn’t be a writer’s group if we all just sat around telling stories. It would be a summer camp, and there would be s’mores.
“I have writing goals, but they are the equivalent of an email asking for more information about a toothbrush.”
“My goal is to write 150 words this week.” Let’s be clear, I’m glad you have a goal, and I hope you achieve it, but we might not be in the same line of work. I think in 1000 word chunks that have a beginning, middle and end (most of the time). I’d be hard-pressed to get a story across in 150 words. That is taking flash fiction to a whole new level. It has taken one hundred and thirty-seven words to describe your goal of writing 150 words. It is that simple. Although, it was Hemingway who wrote a full memoir in six words. “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Maybe you are on to something there.
And this one is me. I haven’t found a writers’ group that serves beer. One did have tea, but no beer. I like beer.