Yesterday, my writing group had a new experiment. Instead of meeting in someone’s house, as we have done for the past year, we agreed to meet in a pub.
Alas, a huge five-party altercation ensued. It nearly ended violently. When the check arrived and everyone had put in their money, we were significantly over.
It was the closest we’ve ever gotten to screaming at one another (nicely, of course). “I saw you overcontribute! Don’t lie to me! Take back your stinking overgenerous dollars!” etc.
We actually talked about our Niceness yesterday at the pub. I had been a guest at another writing group last week, and saw a very different kind of forum there–people jumping on one another, or telling one another baldly that the project was headed in the wrong direction, etc. I understand that some people thrive on this kind of critique, and indeed perhaps everyone needs it at a certain stage in their writing. In my case, I left feeling rather bad about myself (this despite the fact that at the end of the night, I hadn’t had the courage to actually share anything).
For me, the too-nice writing group is definitely what I need right now. At the point I’m at in my life, the hardest part about writing is sitting down and doing it. There are so many other ways I should be using my time, after all, so many obligations to other people and institution. But when I go sit with the Nice People, who have read whatever little thing I produced last week, and I hear nothing but their enthusiasm for the direction I’m going, or perhaps gentle critiques couched in emotional reactions to the story, well . . . then I go home and want to write more. At this stage, being cut down to size–even rightfully–might be just enough to make me think (or realize) that this is a rather pointless endeavor and I might as well not waste my time.
I’m always curious about how people share their writing, and where they find the inspirational feedback that helps them most (or, if they’re the kind of person who writes in an entirely solitary way, where they find their confidence–that is certainly something I’d like to understand better, too). Please tell me your writing story, if you have one.