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My Writing with Groups

July 7, 2015

images                                                                                                                                           As I mentioned on the introductory post for this week, I feel most successful, most motivated, most accountable when I am part of a writing group. While I’ve been scrawling away all of my life, it took me awhile to feel confident enough to share my writing with other writers. I find that sometimes, though, I’m more comfortable doing so than sharing with non-writing friends or family members. There’s something liberating about telling my own story (in prose or poetry) to someone who wasn’t part of the event. As Rebecca McClanahan mentioned in an earlier chapter, our own recollection of events are sometimes flawed or at best filtered through our own selective memory.

When I write poetry, particularly that which gives the appearance of autobiography, I have to worry that readers will take it all literally. (I had a poem published in our school lit mag and a student asked me about it, assuming it was all completely true–a poem in which I had referred to Miller-marinated kisses from college boys!)

When I started back writing poetry several years ago, I did so via Poetic Asides during the April poem-a-day challenge. I knew no one participating, but I had such fun writing and responding to others’ poems.  I believe it’s those responses that kept writers coming back.  The next year, when the number of posts each day grew too numerous to wade through, one of the online poets to whom I had commented contacted several “regulars” and asked if we were interested in forming a smaller group within the community. The thirteen of us were spread across the U.S. and four other countries, but we shared more than just our poems. Since, some of us have visited others. Laurie flew out from Texas to visit me last year. Sharon and Connie and maybe others are coming in September to a “Fall Face-to-Face in the Foothills” poetry event we are planning here just to give us a chance to get to know the “friends we’ve never met yet.”

My fiction group grew out of an encounter at Poetry Hickory. I knew Susan because we had mutual friends, so I was aware she had a novel Goliath coming out with St. Martin’s Press. She had an acquaintance from a creative writing class, who had a friends. . . .  This group has changed some but has stayed small. We first met and brought 10-12 pages of our current writing projects, exchanged them for critiquing to be shared at the next month’s meeting.

We also went together to Weymouth Center, as I mentioned before, spending a productive few days one February (with the lovely surprise of snow and a fox hunt on the grounds while we were there.)  Some of us are returning in August.

We are trying a new tack now. We set our next meeting date and agreed to send our drafts for comments one week before our meeting, and to send back responses to those drafts the day before our meeting so we could discuss and ask questions at our meeting (set for tomorrow).

This summer I also helped to form a poetry group involving five women (including me) who know each other from local poetry events.  Most of us have been writing awhile, but needed the push to submit more frequently for publication and to begin putting together a chapbook or collection. We share calls for submission when we meet.  At our last meeting, three of us had poems we are considering for our collection. We decided on a theme and even a title, and we’re asking our group members to give us feedback about inclusion and organization.

Since I’ve taken some of the earlier chapters seriously, I have been reporting almost every day to my “office”–the local public library–where I work on my own writing and respond in a timely fashion to my writing partners’ work too.

I will admit, though, that having this regular “date” online–taking the responsibility for studying the section of our text each week and putting together the posts to share with you has been invigorating.

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