Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Long-Running Writing Group

On Thursday afternoons, I meet with my writing group, led by novelist Laurel Goldman. I've been in this group a few months shy of 25 years. As you might imagine, the conversation has strayed from writing a time or two. Also, we have tea afterwards at the Whole Foods grocery across the street from Laurel's office.

In a writing group, there's a higher value placed on total honesty than in other relationships. I want to know any possible negative a reader could come up with about what I've written, so that I can decide how I want to deal with it.

For one of the group to have a critical thought and hold it back would be malpractice.

In marriages and other relationships, total revelation of every negative thought is not required or even desirable, at least by me.

Yet I find that having a group of friends/colleagues with an agreement for full response--positives and negatives--is extremely interesting. And it's excellent practice in being diplomatic and unsparingly direct at the same time. We don't necessarily practice this skill in our commentaries on each other's personal lives, but the habit does persist and we're pretty damn forthcoming in all our talks.

It's one of the great things in my life, this ongoing conversation. I wonder if at the end of my life, I'll look back and think that the group was the point as much as the books were.

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