Gina Gallois wrote this fine reflection on the first Prose and Cons meeting!
You may have seen the Meet-up invitation for a writer’s support group go out on Facebook a few weeks ago. You may have considered it as I did before shaking your head and continuing to scroll down your news feed. Perhaps you even thought for several more days about how you enjoy writing and what it might be like to join a writing group before making your final decision.
I clicked the “yes” button and entered the date on my calendar. Why not give it a try? I survived writing a dissertation didn’t I? My advisor was kind and encouraged me to show him everything I wrote as often as possible. I followed his advice and dutifully, if nervously turned in every word to him, always expecting him to laugh as he tossed the pages into the flames or read aloud to me from the most far fetched passages in a mocking imitation of my voice. Incredibly, he never did this. On several occasions, to my surprise, he even singled out my most fanciful ideas as the most compelling, to be “unpacked” further, as they say in academia. He was always frank with me, telling me matter-of-factly what was good and what could be better, once or twice, what should be stricken from the record forever. By the time I was writing the introduction (this happens at the end,) I got a little carried away at the prospect of finally finishing. I didn’t even flinch when he asked if it didn’t sound a bit smug in one part. Yes, yes it did. So, I changed the wording accordingly and then it was done!
I lived through that writing process and even enjoyed it some of the time. Here was my chance to write for me. For fun. On a subject I can still stand to think about without shuddering.
With some small apprehension in the back of my mind, I arrived early Sunday morning, ordered myself some coffee and took a seat in the small meeting room with a few faces I knew from Sunday Assembly. After introductions, we moved on to the business of talking about our writing. I had expected sort of a peer-editing type environment, like in a composition class. It had not occurred to me that we would read aloud! But it made sense. There were nine or ten of us, so it was the fastest way for everyone to know what everyone else had been working on. Next time, we decided, we can share our work beforehand and make written comments for each participant.
Bill started us off with a fantastical poem about the thrilling story of circus aphrodisiacs gone horribly awry. It was a hilarious hit. I followed him with a recent blog entry I had written about my 19-month old’s passionate love of books. My voice strained and I could feel my heart beating fast, but the group gave me just the right balance of praise and constructive criticism. Next, Scott whetted our appetites by metaphorically cooking up the ideal omelet for our listening pleasure. Nick inspired us with a kind of writer’s anthem in verse and Kristy confessed her charming childhood criminality. If I remember correctly, we wrapped up with Sam’s account of his seventeen-year old self’s harrowing encounter with large marine life.
Not everyone got a chance to read, perhaps not everyone felt ready, but it did not matter. In own way, each of us put something of ourselves in and we all got much more in return. More encouragement, more suggestions, more perspectives, more laughs…I’ll be going back for more…
The next Prose and Cons is on Sunday, August 24th, at 9AM!