Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ …

I’m in a writers’ group. I’ve been in this group for pretty close to forever. Almost 18 years. That’s pretty bizarre, most of my adult life! We’ve had various configurations and membership and meeting locations and activity. We went through a great phase when we were doing readings like crazy … and another period when almost no one was writing and group seemed to be about having dinner … and a period when everyone was writing about sex. Waves of this, waves of that.

Tonight on my way home from the group, I started to wonder what I’m doing, what I’m getting. I love being part of this group of strong, smart women, don’t misunderstand. But what am I doing, exactly? Tonight I complained that I never finish anything, and this is true. I have the world’s largest collection of unfinished stories. The last truly complete piece I wrote is already four years old. So what am I doing? Shouldn’t I be using the group to help push me past this place?

I don’t want the group to morph into some kind of rigid ‘boot camp’ group where everyone is assigned times to present work and we all have to churn out a certain amount of work every month to be considered viable members. No. That would drive me out faster than hearing that my mean old poetry professor from college was suddenly going to join us. It’s not structure I’m after. I need to figure out what it is that I want to get from the group …

Is it enough that I know I’ll have a supportive ear from the other members, that they will say lovely things to me and give me real feedback on my work? I think that’s been enough for a while, but is it enough? Is it that I want to finally finish the collection of stories I’m halfway through (yet another unfinished thing)? Maybe it’s just a matter of making a set of writing goals and using our every-two-or-three-weeks meetings to work toward them? As far as my attendance in the group, it’s really not necessary for me to have an answer this minute … or ever, I suppose. But I feel a little like I’m hanging out in limbo, and I’m not sure I like the feeling so much.

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3 thoughts on “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ …

  1. I’m in a writer’s group and we, too, have discussed these issues. We have decided for gentle structure when it comes to writing exercise and critique and fluidity as to when we present work that’s ready for the group to read. I’m sure this will change/ morph a million times within the year. These are such real problems facing writers—it’s like the concept of “reading” about writing but never getting to the writing part.

    Ah, to finish. Have you read Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life? It’s excellent.

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