It seemed promising at first, the internet entry for the group implied that they weren’t potential deviants, desperate to gorge on the flesh of failed writers. Hell they had even set a homework task, 150 word flash fiction that had to incorporate the word ‘tinsel’ (see previous festive post for my contribution) and I arrived at the location within the CBD with time to spare.
Upon double checking the details of the meeting I realised that I was indeed sat in the wrong building, thus braved the warm summer heat to dash across to the other side of the river to the right place. A normal start for me in this reality sadly. Anyway, hotter, slightly moister, than intended, but still trying to conduct oneself with the demeanor that states one is a WRITER, I wandered into the correct library.
Now, firstly this post is going to come over all ageist and sexist, but that truly is not my intention. I am Douglas Adams old, male, white, working class and generally a standard issue of humanity. Ninety percent of this group were female, retired and obviously, to an outsider anyway, a close knit bunch. The meeting didn’t start off well, the Matriarch/Chair decrying that too many people (18 or so) were in attendance and the dynamic was all wrong. Not wishing to point out the obvious, i.e she had been the one organising the numbers, we nodded appreciatively of her efforts to adapt to such an audience.
The next issue was the homework, 150 words or so, no more, incorporating the word tinsel. I, being a conformist and fearful of transgression, had spent a morning honing a biographical piece that would fit and adhere. Anyway, being the noob in the group, one of three I should add (the others being published author and impaired sight lady + husband) I waited patiently to contribute. The first regular began to recount her tale. 2500 words later I was somewhat confused by the reaction of the group to how amazing it was, how it should be published, how talented etc ….
No mention of word count, of the point of the exercise, just validation.
The same for the next writer, and the next. The fourth talked through her synopsis for a book to help those living with the death of a loved one through suicide. A harrowing subject, yet somehow everyone talked over her, telling her how it should be, what THEY would do.
Anyway published author left halfway through, I had peaked over her shoulder during the meeting, watching her scratch the word BORED over and over again into her journal.
That broke the atmosphere of the group for a moment, yet they returned to normality soon enough. Each telling the other how incredible they were, how they should all be published authors, sell movie rights, be rich.
A self-help group for the delusional. Validating each other.
Anyway, I read out my piece to muted feedback. All 150 words or so. With the word Tinsel. The first time I had ever shared anything I had ever written in a public sphere (aside from the internet). They were underwhelmed but polite and I bade farewell, seeking a desk to begin chiselling away at the current WIP.
It was then that the husband of the visually impaired lady wandered over. He introduced himself and stated similar feelings about the group to what I had already forged. Then he said something:
“Keep at it, you were the only writer we heard from today”
My first critic, my first audience.
I walked taller that day if truth be told. Yet mildly confused by finding myself signing myself up to attend the next meeting.
I’m a sucker for punishment.
Anyway, Festive best and seasonal wishes …. hope 2014 gives you everything you need.