The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, September 12, 2011

Writing Groups or Linda O'Connell is Now in a Safe Place

What do the following comments have in common?

"What is that you're drinking--cat pee?"

"You don't have to pad your comments for me. I want to know if it sucks. Just say--'It sucks' if it does suck."

"My cat died...So now, I'm looking for a boyfriend."

"Your endings are always brilliant. These letters could be an incredible book. We want to see more."

"Your ex-husband lives with his mother? Yikes!"

"I don't know where this circus guy came from. I think I channeled him." 

If you thought these might be things overheard during a writing group meeting, you're correct.

photo by Janny Brocken

Recently, I had the good fortune to fall into a writing group. We've only met twice so far, but already I'm enjoying it immensely. (Over the summer I joined a marvelous one--temporarily--but since I had to return to work in August, I no longer had Tuesday mornings free.)

I have a few guidelines, if you're not involved with one but would like to be:

1. Make sure you're clear about what you want when you share your work. Do you want really constructive criticism? Do you want everybody's comments tied up with a pretty bow, or are you of the opinion "If it smells like poop and looks like poop, it is poop...So say 'It's poop,'"?

2. Find a suitable place to meet--one that adds the desired ambience, is quiet enough to hear each other, and has carpeting (so the landings on one's rear-end is a soft one).  We first met at Barnes and Noble, but some whack-job assaulted Linda O'Connell while we were there, and Linda ended up with a multi-colored bruise after falling on her...Well, you get the idea.

3. Make sure everyone is in the same "ballpark," writing-wise. I'm in the bullpen--not quite on the field yet--but I am learning from the other writers and getting great suggestions and submission ideas. Soon, I'll be in the batting rotation...

4.  Make sure your group stays on track. Bawdy comments, snarky remarks...those tend to get the writers off the subject of writing. Revel in Avoid them.

Linda is worried that, after reading the comments at the beginning of this post, people will wonder if she suffered brain damage when she fell. Only two of the comments were said by her. (You figure out which two.)


  1. Fine! I'll stick to the script. Will you please clarify that these are not all my quotes. People are going to wonder if I got brain damage when I had the chair yanked out from under me.

  2. I'm picking the first one and the fifth one for Linda. Do I at least have one right??

    Wonderful post, Sioux, as always. Yours is one of the blogs I look for first, and I'm always so happy when you have a new post!

  3. Whew. I'm glad you didn't print the *really* obnoxious comments.

  4. I'm with Tammy - ahahaha! But, I am disappointed that "Colonel the library...with the frozen leg of lamb" didn't make the cut! Ha...oh, this is too funny. I'm enjoying it immensely too, Sioux. I have much to learn as a writer...and I do believe I'm gonna learn things I never even though about ; )

  5. He he he, ha ha ha - and what do you mean you're in the bullpen and not on the playing field? What?


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