by Bethany Maines
Writer’s Group: to gather with others to read and critique excerpts of written work
Reading Group: to gather with others to read and critique books, drink and snack
When done correctly, a writer’s group can operate as an auxiliary brain or a training ground to push a writer forward in her craft. They can be fun, inspiring and incredibly helpful. They can also be a sucking hole of negativity and wasted time.
With that in mind, it was with some trepidation that I recently tested out a new group. The hostess had a dog (bonus points) and they had established a rule of positivity and compliments before critiques (nice). They had a time keeper and a word count on the segments we read (organized!). Each writer was doing different genres and styles, but that had the benefit of bringing diverse points of view to the table. In general, it was great. It provided very valuable feedback and I can only hope that I was equally helpful to the other writers.
However, in specific, it was wee bit disappointing as there were no beverages or snacks. The reasoning – that hosting the group was enough trouble and that we were here to do actual serious work, not carouse – makes total, logical, absolute sense. But in the sense of “it’s been a long week, and Bethany wants a potato chip and a glass of something” it was less than I had hoped for.
I think, possibly what I was really hoping for was a Reading Group. Every Reading Group I’ve ever attended came with crackers, cheese, and wine – the three low effort food groups. Now, in defense of the writer’s group, very few Reading Group’s I’ve ever attended actually stayed entirely on topic. There was a lot of… uh… digression, shall we say. And time keeping was absolute disaster. And learning was sort of ancillary by-product of reading a book I didn’t pick out, but gosh darn it, the artichoke dip was fantastic.
So next month? I’ll be packing my own snacks to the writers group. After all, that group comes with a dog.
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.