Can one have a love-hate relationship with their writing group? I know that it is possible and for reasons that may not be apparent to anyone but me.
My group is made up of talented writers, many who have been published, some MFA graduates, journalists, bloggers, professors and a few like me, who are clinging to a lifetime yearning to write and write well. We even have a member who has produced a documentary that is receiving great reviews.
These fine people, led by a published author, teacher and all round amazing person, have been in and out of the group for many years. One has to do an audition of sorts to be asked to join. My writing passed that test.
My first session was an eye-opener. One or two members of the group presented their writing for critique. While most of the writing was strong, the critiques were stronger. This was the group I was hoping to find.
The problem was — food and drink. The rules were that the writers who had signed up to be critiqued, also had to bring in food and drinks for the goup. Thus, my problem. It is not that I am a bad cook, I am just not a self-confident one. My creativity is focused on my writing and not on kitchen craft. Even when I follow a recipe exactly, something seems to go wrong. My first critique session, I learned a valuable lesson — women and their real or imagined food sensitivities can entirely change the food dynamic. The wonderful focaccia that I spent hours putting together was passed up by the gluten free eaters; the cheese balls were ignored by the cholesterol watchers and the cookies (from Trader Joes) got me glares from those who were on diets. (How was I to know?) In the spring, I stopped at the local farmer’s market and got freshly picked sweet and succulent strawberries. “Have they been rinsed off?” asked one of them. I couldn’t lie, “no I just got them from the market in the strawberry field.” So they were passed on, and I brought them home with me, munching them delightfully in the care. Note: I didn’t get sick.
Then there is the issue of drink. Acceptable options appear to be wine and San Pellagrino. Ok, but I have no idea what kind of wine this group would drink and am quite sure that there is at least one wine snob who would turn up his nose at my selection.
I signed up for two critiques in the new session and have decided to get one of those cut up veggie plates from the super market; grab a box of triscuits and a bottle of San Pelligrino and simply hope that the food doesn’t interfere with their critiques of my novel.