my writing group

I’ve belonged to a writers’ group–The Summit City Scribes–for more years than I like to think about.  We meet the second and fourth Wednesday of each month–often enough to keep us serious, not so often it becomes a chore.  We’re an eclectic brew of scribblers with no rules, no dues, no officers.  The only things expected of us is to show up as often as possible, to respect each writer and his/her work, and to offer the best critiques that we know how to.  We say what we like about the person’s writing and what we think he/she could have done better.  If we can think of a market that would work for the piece, we mention it.

We have a little of everything in our group.  Neil is a naturalist who writes newspaper columns.  When he reads, we know we’re going to learn about birds or migration paths, his experience at a state park, or a story about an adventure in his RV.  Paula writes mysteries, and we try to remember each clue and red herring as she spreads chapters over several months.  Ann writes romance, and we watch for hints that we know will bring the couple together before her last page.  We have fantasy writers, people working on children and YA novels, someone who writes nostalgia, and the occasional article or two.  But it all works.  We zero in on what makes for good writing.

The thing I love best is that each person comes at writing from such different angles.  Paula nails us on characters.  She looks for depth and multi-levels in our stories.  Mary Lou is a stickler on POV and using the senses to bring scenes alive.  She zeroes in on hooks at a chapter’s beginning and again at its end.  Linda cares about language and symbolism, about being real.  Ann won’t let lazy verbs slide.  She listens for word choice.  And together, everyone’s strengths become one powerful dynamic.

Our meeting goes from 12:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon, which makes it hard for people with day jobs to attend, but it’s what works for us.  A lot of us started attending the group when our kids were in school.  We could drop off our darlings or wave them onto their yellow bus, get a few things done, then scurry to our meeting.  And we’d be done and home before they walked through the door again, their book bags on their backs.

My kids are grown now, but I still like 12:30 to 2:30 for our meetings.  Evenings get busy.  Husbands come home.  Supper needs to be on the table.  There are other meetings to attend.  So twice a month, afternoons still prove a private time that I can call my own.  Many of us no longer need to race home.  I can dawdle.  So can some of the others, so we slip out to some nearby restaurant after the meeting to yak more.

I like both parts of my Scribes’ day.   The official part is a time to concentrate.  Three people volunteer to read at each meeting.  The first person reads for twenty minutes max, then we go around the table and critique the work.  Then the second person gets twenty minutes, etc.  Usually, we get to each person.  Sometimes, we don’t, but that means we got into some heated discussion about a story point or character’s motivation.  We don’t always agree, and that’s a good thing.  At the end of the day, it’s the writer’s story.  He/she has to decide what works for him/her.

I’ve listened to people who despise writers’ groups and say they’re a waste of time.   Or worse, that they do more harm than good.  Before I found Scribes, I might have agreed.  But Scribes has been invaluable to me.  Still is.  After all these years of writing–even after I’ve had things published–I crave my writer friends’ feedback.  They catch things I don’t see.  I’m too close to the characters, to the story.  I think I’ve made something clear that isn’t.  There’s a hole that a plot could fall into and never find its way out.  But Scribes is more to me than just the nuts of bolts of good writing.  It’s the company of writers.  When I’m wrestling with plot points or I need Atlas to hold the story up on broad shoulders, they reenergize me, recharge my battery.  Just being around them, talking shop, gets me enthused me again.

The second part of our meeting is just as valuable to me.  Sitting at a restaurant, rambling about our work or our lives, lets us become more than a group.  We become friends.  And writers make intelligent, interesting friends.  I consider myself lucky to hang with them.

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5 thoughts on “my writing group

  1. I was a Scribes member for most of the nearly twenty years I lived in Fort Wayne, IN. I’ve moved around some since then and belonged to other writing groups but The Summit City Scribes continues to hold a special place in my heart. If you live in the area and write, I recommend it without reservation.

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  2. Judith –

    I’ve never been a member of a writer’s group, but have recently been looking into sharing with and learning from others who are “similarly afflicted” with the need to write. =)

    Having moved back to Fort Wayne earlier this year, I’m excited to find something local (and how amazing that WordPress lead me to it?). Any chance your group is looking for new blood?

    I come to this with very little in the way of preconceived notion, as I have never really focused on all the stories floating around inside my head, but now that I’ve started putting them down on paper, I’m eager to see if they resonate with anyone else (and improve the limitations of craft that may prevent said resonance).

    Thanks for the post!

    Sara

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    1. Hi, Sara!

      Scribes meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday from 12:30 to 2:30 at Little Turtle library near the corner of State and Sherman Streets. When the meeting’s over, some of us go out to the Tower Bar and Grill afterward to yak–not always about anything intelligent. We don’t have any officers or dues, and you’re more than welcome to give us a try. We have readers who have signed up to share pages with us, and you can see what you think. Some people can’t join us because we meet during the day. Just in case, Shirley Jump does a wonderful, evening writers’ workshop on the 3rd Tuesday (if I remember right) of most months at Barnes & Noble at Jefferson Pointe. You can call for info, if you’re interested. Lots of good writers meet there too. But we’d be happy to meet you if you can make it to a meeting. (Our schedule’s different for November and December, though, because of the holidays, so check with me ahead, just in case).

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      1. Thanks! I’m going to have to see where the schedule falls for this month, as I’m fairly certain I have a couple of prior commitments on those Wednesdays, but for November & December I’d love for you to keep me in the loop. =) Have a great day!

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      2. We meet at the library on Nov. 14, but no second meeting. We have a carry-in at someone’s house on Dec. 12th, so no library the entire month. If you’re interested in the carry-in, e-mail me. Some of us will be on panels at the Author’s Fair at the main library on Nov. 3 from noon to four. If you go to that, introduce yourself to us.

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