After a rocky patch last week, my writers group met over margaritas and Mexican food, sans writing. We had one of these powwows at the start of the year, too—I think it’s healthy to recognize when the operation is stagnating and make a plan to reinvigorate the enterprise. Ultimately, we decided to take a break—a month-long hiatus in August. But we also decided to keep meeting regularly, partly because we enjoy each other’s company and would miss catching up for dinner and drinks, and partly to ensure that we don’t just dissolve altogether.
We also discussed how we might take our writers group to the next level, how we might evolve, what we might become.
We agreed, I think, that we should broaden our scope. The few pages in front of us each week are a narrow view of our work, and we need to look at the bigger picture of ourselves as writers. What we’re working on, what we’re struggling with. But also what to do with our writing when we’re done—submitting it to journals, entering it in contests, querying it to agents.
Here’s how one group member put it:
I guess part of my concern is that we are really a professionally geared group and that we do not just write into a void, or just for each other, though that is of course valid … it just feels like we all hope for something more and should encourage each other to take those chances.
We talked, too, about accountability, committing to not just the biweekly group meetings but setting aside time to write in between and reporting back to the group when it’s done. We talked about sharing prompts to kickstart the writing if needed. We talked about collaborative projects.
I can’t say that a lot was decided. I can’t say that we all agreed changes need to be made or what those changes should be.
But I think we can each decide what we need from the group and ask the group to provide it. Thorough and thoughtful critiques? Check. Moral support? Check. A good time accompanied by food and alcohol? Check. But maybe also lines on places to submit our work. Tips on querying an agent. Weekly check-ins on our progress. A more focused conversation about our writing or literary endeavors in general.
It’s our group. It is what we make of it.