Lessons to Practice #2: Joining a Writers’ Group

Happy Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, and Taco Tuesday! Here in North Texas, we just had a pretty gnarly storm roll in last night; it’s been raining almost nonstop since late last night. It didn’t stop me from going to my volunteer job for a few hours today, though.

In learning my own writing lessons, I started to take the idea of joining a writers’ group seriously as of last week. I read Paula Munier’s suggestion in Writing with Quiet Hands, then reread it a second time after reflecting on my own internal responses: A writers’ group? Do I really have time to start attending one? What if they’re not anywhere near my skill level? (Yes, I was simultaneously cocky, reticent, and nervous!) My counter argument to myself was highly amusing: Yes, R-M, you’ll have time if you make it. Now go find that group and get over your pride/nervousness!

So I looked up local writing groups – and found that the most well-known one here in Denton met that very same night! I packed up my notebook and hurried over to the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center with an open mind and a fluttering heart.

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Turns out being brave was worth it. The writers I met are some of the most hilarious, well-read, perceptive, and open-minded folks I’ve ever encountered. They greeted me warmly, and the guy sitting next to me told me how the Denton Writers’ Critique Group worked before we were divided into two groups to begin reading. I enjoyed how briskly everyone moved along, and a couple of longtime members called each other fuckers in good humor before we got to reading. Ha!

After the reading and critiquing was done, I agreed to tag along with some of the group to eat at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Talk about having a raucous good time! So many of those guys and girls let loose, venting about everything from shitty horror movies to weddings to the wonderful horror that is Resident Evil 7. I talked with one writer in particular about our love for horror games and David Foster Wallace. All in all I felt right at home, free to laugh and share my passions without censoring myself.

Since it was my first time attending a meeting, I was asked to only read and provide feedback. However, for my second meeting I can bring my own work – and I intend to! My plan is to share the first chapter of In the Words of Your Love with the group. It’s certainly opening up that feeling of vulnerability for me, but it’s a feeling that Paula Munier stresses as indispensable for getting acclimated to the rejection letters and the disappointments that we are all bound to face on our journey to publication. Now I’m doing my best to embrace it!

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I would love to hear your thoughts on joining a writers’ group! Have you done so yet? How have you liked it thus far? Did you have any qualms of your own in going to that first meeting? Comment below and we’ll get to chatting.

 

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