Yesterday I returned to our local writers club for the first time in several weeks. In my absence two people dropped out. One left because he didn’t like the new rule that dogs are not allowed at club meetings. I was sorry to see this dog-loving man go. Apparently he doesn’t want to leave his dog alone at home like most dog owners do. The other person’s decision to give up on the writers club was more mysterious. I went to his door to see what was up and he said, “It has run its course for me; I’ve had enough.” That makes me wonder what happened while I was gone.
Well, one thing that happened in my absence was more socializing and less writing. I learned that very little actual writing took place during the three meetings I skipped while focusing on my taxation issues. This is the year that I learned a lot more about how to use deductions to make my tax burden manageable (and fair). I refused all meetings until after the filing happened. Meanwhile my local writer friends had a good time that didn’t include actual writing. I feel like such a taskmaster, asking them to buckle down and write during the meetings, but that was the focus of this club.
Yesterday I asked everyone what they suggested to make the club meetings better. We agreed that socialization time should be limited to the first half-hour and the end of the meeting.
We also decided that critique requests should be done on paper to maximize their usefulness. I told them to bring printed copies to distribute at one meeting, then the critiques can be done at home and returned. I asked them to do this because my experience of face-to-face critiques has been miserable and unhelpful, to say the least. When I’ve read my work to a group I mainly got accolades or criticism but rarely anything specifically useful that would help me during the revision process. All my best critiques are done online, especially by my Silverweb critique group – and we use a phpBB forum and exchange work in Word.doc format. Very helpful!
One other thing we agreed to do… we decided to prepare presentations on writing topics. One person will speak each week. This will give us all experience in speaking about writing. My turn comes on August 13, and I’ll be speaking about my new Lifesong Press publishing business.
We finished that discussion by writing together on the topic: “Write about the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen.” Two of the people wrote about their babies, one wrote about the Klamath River – and I wrote about a hidden glade in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Sorry, kids! I know they will be so upset with me… but I knew that people would write about babies and to be honest, it was one of the first things that came to my mind. Then I did that typical writer thing – I looked for a unique slant on the topic, and remembered that incredible, peaceful place near Big Basin State Park. I may post that here in a few days, and it will also be in the Writers Club Anthology – tentatively titled, “We’ve Been Happy Camped!” Due out later this year.