And it’s right next to my house (almost)!
Last Thursday I attended my first ever writer’s group meeting. I had been looking for one for a while, figuring that to be the next logical step towards developing a career as a fiction writer (short stories, novels, and maybe even movie scripts, if I ever get to be as popular as, say, Neil Gaiman). I’ve done more than enough writing alone, and it’s about time I shared some of my stuff with others. Of course, I intended to do this in a manner which would allow me to sell some of the works to print publications. (Those I don’t sell will, of course, make their way to the Web, either here or somewhere else.)
The writing group was… not at all what I expected. Where I had though I’d find a well structured, classroom-like environment I instead found a group of people gathered around a table in a coffee house, talking about writing related stuff.
I loved it.
In fact, it sort of reminded me of high school: the same kind of sophomoric excitement could be felt from all group members, the same kind of energetic wonder, the same mix of shyness and group encouragement which marks the amateurs there as being more than just people who can’t do something well (this not being at all the case), but rather people who do what they do out of love. Of course, I sincerely doubt any of them would object to making money from their craft. I certainly don’t.
The meeting started with a 20-minute writing session in which we were shown a picture and given an idea about what may be happening in the picture (girl waking up in a place she didn’t know). Not a terribly original idea, but certainly fun, and challenging. After we finished, some of us decided to read out loud what we had just written. Although I certainly wouldn’t put this to public critique, here’s what I wrote. I hope you enjoy it:
“Hey, you! What are you doing there?”
Alyss heard the disembodied voice coming from the dark, a gruff, quick, high pitched voice which reminded her of her dog’s (Millie’s) bark.
She opened her eyes, and was suddenly hit by a wave of nausea. Reality had become a tapestry of ill-defined colors and nebulous shapes. Towers which looked like man-sized candy canes shot out from a forest of balloons, each containing a piece of something familiar, though she couldn’t tell what.
Looking around, she spotted a group of boys walking towards her. While everything else was blurry, nebulous, the boys were well defined, each dressed in a garment so fine it bent light, giving each a translucent look.
A voice from the crowd called out, “Do you hear me? You’re not supposed to be here!” It was the same voice as before, though she still couldn’t see who it belonged to, as it came from the back of the group.
Alyss stood, trying to remember where she had come from, trying to figure out where she was. “Who are you?” she called out. “Where am I?”
“You’re in your room,” the voice answered. The group of boys had stopped walking towards her, and now only stared at her while she stood up. The boys, none of whom looked older than five years old, were about her height. This was surprising in that she had grown accustomed to being the tallest of her peers.
“Who are you?” she again called out. “Where am I?”
“You’re in your bedroom, Alyss. I already told you that.” The gruff, high pitched voice again answered, though it now sounded as if it was moving closer. The boys, she noticed, began parting, starting with the back of the group. “And to answer your first question, I’m Millie.” As he said this, the pug stood there, having now emerged from the group of boys.
Millie continued. “You’re not supposed to be here. I’m reconstructing reality, just like I do every night. Now go back to sleep, I’m not done yet.”
After the short story session, we began to critique someone’s work. Being the new guy there (or rather, one of the two new guys there), I didn’t really get to join in, and spent most of my time listening. Of course, I chimed in where I thought I could help, but frankly the people there probably found this more annoying than helpful. I sort of tend to do that in real life, where I don’t get to go back and edit what I’ve just said. I’m much better at this than before, though, now that I’ve learned to shut my mouth most of the time.
During this time I also handed out a story that’s to be critiqued this coming week. I gave everyone there a printed copy, but too late did I realize that I gave them an older version. I can see now that things won’t bode well. I’ve sent the participants a new copy electronically via the writing group’s website, but I don’t know how many of them got the new copy. The old version was plagued by unnecessary words, run-on sentences, and ambiguity which served to confuse the heck out of most first time readers, especially those not familiar with the concepts I talk about there. (Hurray for vague references! See what being on the Interwebz for long can do to a person? Lesson here: don’t do drugs kids, and stay in school, because if you don’t, the terrorists win.)
Towards the end of the meeting things broke down some and people began having individual conversations. It was at this time that I got a chance to better meet some of the people there, including other professional writers. I also got a chance to pick up this little line, which I plan to somehow use in a story sometime: “[He] shoots lasers out of his eyes because he fell into a laser snake pit as a boy.” Ah, yes, the wonders of comics. This, by the way, came during a conversation of graphic novels as character/plot based versus situationally based. Finally, I got to find out about things like the upcoming Miami Book Fair, which is supposed to take place sometime in December.
All in all I had a great time. If you’re in the Fort Lauderdale area, and are looking for a writers’ group, come and check out the Davie Writers’ Group, which meets on Thursday nights, at 7:00 PM, at The Roasted Bean on S University Blvd, just south of 595, near Nova Southeastern University’s main campus.