I’m sitting in a writers’ group right now, and I’ll be honest, it makes me want to lash out at the very concept of being in a writers’ group. But I’m not going to do that! I won’t even ridicule the guy who just told us all how easy it is to write science fiction (“All I have to do is make stuff up”). Instead, I’m going to tell you about the first writers’ group I ever attended, a few years back.
It was November. Non-writers might not realize it, but there’s nothing quite like a gathering of writers in November. It’s a rare and special time to be a people-watcher, because you’ll meet people who are seldom seen during the other eleven months. It felt like being in a Daniel Pinkwater novel. Fortunately, I was there, like an urban David Attenborough, to bring this experience to you.
Here are the people that attended:
- A British guy with a mullet, writing about a female vampire who falls in love with a female android;
- An Asian girl writing about “a social experiment in which 15 men are placed in a room with one woman, to see how long it takes them to rape her” (she never smiled once);
- A girl with a Hello Kitty doll the size of a German shepherd;
- A film student from a nearby university;
- A skinny blonde girl who sat beside me and spent 30 minutes looking at photos of snakes on her laptop;
- A small contingent of Morbidly Obese Lesbian Twilight Anti-Fans (MOLTAFs), who talked about almost nothing but their hatred of Twilight;
- And me. I’d like to call myself “the normal one,” but you don’t get to sit in a group like this and call yourself normal. They probably thought of me as “that smartass.”
I took notes on some of the conversations I was in that night.
Me: What are you writing?
FilmStudent: Well, it’s kind of strange.
Me: So’s mine. What kind of strange?
FS: It’s a ninjas and pirates romance.
Me: A comedy, then?
[A bit later …]
Me: What are you writing?
Me: [puzzled] … and … how many units of shit have you produced so far?
Me: Are you so ashamed of your shit that you refuse to describe it?
SG: I guess so.
Me: [indicating FilmStudent] You should let that guy talk about his novel, then you’ll feel better.
[still later …]
HelloKittyGirl: What’s your wordcount?
HKG: Only 189? But you’re a professional writer!
MOLTAF: No, I’m an editor.
HKG: Well that doesn’t mean you can’t write!
Me: Isn’t that exactly what they say it means? Those who can’t write, edit?
MOLTAF and HKG: [in unison] Ouch!
It might look like I was being mean, but if you’d been there, you’d know we were all having a lot of fun. I really liked all of these people (except maybe the “Rape Studies” girl), but I’ve lost track of most of them since then. So to them I say: if any of you should happen to read this, I wish you many happy and victorious Novembers!