I don’t know about your face-to-face writing group, but mine is the coolest. Cooler than yours, I’m dead certain. First, we meet in a small café, which, admittedly, is trés ordinaire, but our café is in the Super Target on Highway 66 in Rowlett, Texas, a place you’ve never even been. We have our own mascot, a certain red soda machine that growls like crazy if our prose stinks, which it only does at first, before its critiqued. Because after it is workshopped, by jinkies, our writing sings and that machine purrs. My critique group applauds rejection letters and toots horns when publication happens for one of our own. We put bloopers on our website, just to keep us humble, and collect dues so we can give gag gifts at a catered Christmas party.
And the people! We have the meanie (me) who goes for the jugular when something in a story doesn’t communicate as it should, but mostly we are a direct, though kindly-spoken bunch. Best of all, each writer in the group seems to have some unique perspective that only he or she can give to the other writers clustered around the table. Kathy, our leader, will take you out if you use the passive voice, but she’ll smile while she does it and leave you feeling like you just got a big hug instead of a punch in the prose. Julie is about the only person I know who actually understands when to use a semi-colon. LeRoy is pretty much the opposite of what you’d think his name implies, which, to me is dorkdom. He’s all about action, adventure, and getting down to the crux of a story. If your work needs an infusion of tension, hunt out LeRoy because he’ll find the way to get it in there. I could go on, singing the praises of everyone in the group, but I won’t because I simply don’t have the space here and some of them know where I live. I do want to bet you, though, that we’ve got more kinds of writing going on in our group than you do in yours. Heck, we even have this woman who writes sexy Mormon literary stories. Go figure. If that isn’t niche, I don’t know what is!
But I mostly wanted to tell you about this really cool project that our writing group has been working on this year. I can brag about it because I have had absolutely nothing to do with it. Worn thin by rejections, the Rowlett Writers’ Group put its collective foot down, deciding that, heck fire, their little band of writers can write better than an awful lot of awful writers who are publishing. So the group committed to self-publish its own collection of short fiction, essays and poetry. Everyone who chose to be involved was involved at some level, be that in the writing, editing, lay-out or marketing plans. The anthology hasn’t rolled off the presses yet, and, well, the group won’t exactly be gathering around the NY Times once it does to see how well Quills and Crossroads has fared in the Bestseller wars. But so what? We were a community before our writing group took on this project. Now we’re a team.
I say “we” even though I sat on the sidelines, a thing I regret, as they put the anthology together. I excused myself because I was editing Darin Cozzen’s Light of the New Day and Other Stories (which you should all buy and read) for Zarahemla Press (who you should all support by buying and reading Light of the New Day and Other Stories, or any of its other titles). But I’m seriously jealous of their accomplishment and feel like an outsider because I’ve got no fingerprints in the anthology’s ink. I’m just so daggum proud of them and wanted to boast a little bit about how cool I think it is that this little pocket of writers decided to literally bind up their desire for publication. What the group has learned about the publishing business has been well-worth the headaches. So yeah, my group is more awesome than any other writing group I’ve ever heard about. Including yours.
I know, I know, you think your group is cool, too. Yeah, right. Tell me all about it. Really. Write in the comment box below. Now. (That means you, too, Scott, Usurper of Dates.)