My local writing group met tonight — some are members since April, 2009’s first meeting and some are more recent implants.
“Okay,” says one member. “Who’s leading the meeting tonight?”
“I’ll find some words for the writing exercise,” said another. Then he read them off, one by one.
Fifteen minutes of silent pen-to-paper endeavor and everybody had something to share. Even our youngest member, the 10-year-old son of one of our newer participants. His prowess with words is amazing for one so young. That is a great motivator for the rest of us. If a pre-teen can write, so can we.
It is a continual amazement to me the different voices in the group. Seven or eight people, all receiving the same words, writing stories that are different from one another (even if they have similar themes) and reflecting each contributors unique writing style.
After the exercise those who wish to will read something they’ve written in the past two weeks. One writes memoir (usually hilarious), another also writes memoir that is beautifully lyrical, poignant, and thought provoking. Others write fiction of different types: science fiction, fantasy, slice of life. One member reads the revisions to her nearly-finished novel.
Why do we read to one another? Reasons vary. Some read seeking approval for their efforts. Several read, asking for brutal critique (never unkind, though) and others read asking for suggestions regarding trouble spots in their manuscript.
“Can’t that all be done through blogs and e-mails?” you ask. Yes it can. But I don’t like it as well. By meeting with flesh and blood people I can see their reactions, even if they don’t utter a word about what I’ve written. As I listen to them read I hear their compositions from their perspective. This is given away by their phrasing, tone of voice, emotion or lack there-of.
It is the last statement that is the most appealing to me. Sometimes group members pass out copies of what they read. Occasionally I read said missives aloud to my husband. I can hear the writer’s voice as I read and sometimes the memory of what I heard comes through in how I phrase the wording as I share it.
The biggest advantage, I am convinced, is that I’m not always hearing my own voice as I read. People tout how many “friends” they have through social media, including blogs. But are they really friends or just cyber-acquaintances? Through our writing group we learn more about each other than mere words can convey. We encourage one another in our writing and in life. That is why I prefer working with wordsmiths that have skin on them.
Do you belong to a writing group? If you do, what do you like best about it? If you don’t, why not?