Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Writing groups

Last night, as part of my book signing event at Barnes & Noble Lancaster, I was invited to speak with the writer's group that meets there twice monthly. I have to admit that I am jealous of people who have found their group--a collection of people you can trust with your writing. And I mean trust. Trust them to be gentle. Trust them to tell you the truth. Trust their insights and sensibilities.

I have girlfriends I trust with my life and my truths, but not many that I truly trust with my words.

I think about Stephen King and his wife Tabitha. I imagine them propped up on pillows (very expensive ones) in bed, passing pages to each other. She is nodding and chewing on the end of a pen. He is underlining a phrase and writing YES! in the margin. What must it be like to have that instant audience? A sounding board for all those great and not-so-great ideas?

Sometimes the first feedback I get is from my agent. Maybe this is good. Maybe it isn't. I take comments to heart and don't always defend my work. I am too quick to try it another way--afraid that someone who knows the publishing world is more knowledgeable about my characters and plot than I am. I am learning. Perhaps when I learn to trust my instincts, assert my dominion, I'll look for a writing group. Would it be in a classroom or workshop situation where we can learn to know one another first and then decide that our community is too good to abandon when the class ends? Or maybe I'll just take out a personal ad:

Literary novelist who likes poetic devices, word play, twisted plots, and dimensional characters seeks like-minded writer for insightful critique, exchange of ideas, and brainstorming. Love of coffee and/or a good Chianti is a must, as is a wicked wit. Special consideration goes to any applicant with access to a Tuscan villa. Send an email to introduce yourself. Attach a writing sample and picture of your dog. Put the name of your favorite kind of cheese in the subject line.

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