With all the extra time off, I decided to take a look at Meetup.com to see if there were any writers’ groups I might be able to attend in neighboring towns. As it turns out, Meetup has two groups listed, with a flock of evening meetups. (Between my morning shift and getting up early to write, evening a couple of towns over is rarely an option.)
Okay, so I’m daydreaming, again.
The groups have very different “feels” to them. The first meets in a library, and has an incredibly clear THIS is the process type of expectation. A whip-cracking, write that manuscript NOW! kind of thing. (And yes, Write that Manuscript NOW! is something fairly close to the group’s actual name.) The description is very clear about what will happen in the group, and the process the woman who started it follows, and includes several admonitions not to start editing now. (That’s a later week, damn it.)
The second group–clearly more affluent–meets in a coffee shop, and sometimes in members’ homes. (And posting home addresses on the internet? Braver than I am.) There’s less whip-cracking, but the organizers list their credentials for running a group/workshop. (There’s actually a paragraph about each of them in the FAQs.) If I were going to go to one or the other, it would probably be this one.
In both cases, you have people who are setting themselves up as “the experts,” or “in charge,” but in the case of the coffeehouse group, I’m not sure they realize they’re doing it. The coffeehouse group also leaves a lot more flexibility for writers in all stages of creation, so there’s that.
The library group–and again, I’m not sure they understand this–really does restrict the number of writers they’re likely to attract, if they’re trying to run a group with everyone in lockstep. Don’t edit yet?!! Well, that’s exactly what I am doing. There are not enough serious writers in most areas for a group to do well, if it tries to attract only writers in one part of the creation process.
And honestly, I don’t think I’d thrive with someone standing over me saying, “are you done yet? we are moving on to editing, now.”
And it’s not the “workshop” part of the coffeehouse thing that’s appealing. It’s the social hour before hand. The organizers have their credentials, but they aren’t credentials to make a writer swoon. They’re… uhm… well, so does Bob and Ellen, and Kate and Bill and Fred… type credentials. (I do like the idea that they’re going to keep the individual workshop groups small, but again… split by the organizer might not be the way we would split organically.)
Right now, my thought leans toward going there incognito to observe the dynamic in person.
By the time I’m done with that, I’ll probably have my hours back and be unable to go again for quite some time.