Thursday, August 4, 2016

Debating Joining a Writer's Group

I've always been a very independent person. I did not find group activities enjoyable in any way, shape or form in school. I found it even less pleasant in college because by then everyone had pretty much cemented their own way of thinking and were more closed off to new ideas and less inclined to change their ways, making group projects something akin to jumping on a bed- a bed of nails!

I have a creative streak as wide as a canyon within me and an endless well of ideas that keeps bubbling entire books to the surface that beg to be written.

I don't have any discernable discipline whatsoever. I set no time limits on myself. I write when the mood strikes and stop when I can no longer think straight, my eyes threaten to close and my forehead is about to strike the keyboard a glancing blow.

I very seldom write down anything in advance of plunging into a project. I might surf the internet for an interesting face or two for inspiration, but I don't have a plot outline, a cast of characters, a list of things I need to work into the narrative or even any idea of where the story is going. It starts when I sit down before the keyboard and ends when I get up and walk away with nothing more that needs to be written.

I understand a lot of writers do this. That's what makes a writer a writer- this creative flow, this expenditure of energy, this tapping into the well within to draw forth something that takes form as if by magic. There's a kind of trance state a writer falls into when they get going. My family can walk up to me and talk to me and maybe twenty minutes later I'm like, "What did you say?" They just roll their eyes at me. You get into the zone and coast along, the words like the wind in your ears, oblivious to all the other vehicles of entertainment sharing that highway.

I suppose writer's groups exist to bring great minds together, but I'm not so sure my mind is all that great. I'm not so sure about other writer's minds being of that lofty a status either. I've read some books that have left me scratching my head wondering how in the world they ever got published- what grammar school dropout did the editing and proofreading and what wet behind the ears publisher thought the contents worthy of binding in book form and foisting as a great novel on unsuspecting readers.

I can be hyper critical at times, reduced to tears at others by the exquisite turning of a phrase, the evoking of an image that resonates within me, that touches one of the strings on the harp that is my heart and sets it aquiver. I have closed books with a profound sense of loss at having been abruptly severed from the characters who had become so real to me it was as if they lived in my sphere of acquaintances and I actually knew them in my real life. I've laughed and cried my way through other books. I've peeked into others and slammed them shut, consigning them to the donation box in the basement for the next library book sale, no connection made to anything in my genetic makeup.

How would I fare among other writers?  I don't really know. I like the idea of a writer's group. I don't know if I can sit still and listen to ramblings about form, structure, mood, the use of sources (if writing nonfiction which I don't write but enjoy if written on certain subjects I care about)- and the banes of my existence-grammar and punctuation. I have patience when I'm really interested in something, but totally lack patience if someone monopolizes a conversation because they like to hear the sound of their own voice and ridiculously believe they know everything.

I think I would make a poor member of any group. I'm easily bored. I lose focus when bored. I yawn and doodle (like I did in every notebook on every subject all throughout my sixteen or more years of schooling/education), To hook me in you need to engage me. If I'm firmly on the hook everything's good and I'm happy. But once I slip the hook, I'm gone, back into the wonderland that is my brain where new stories clamor, or the characters of the current work in progress start talking to me in hurried voices because of my neglecting them.

I've probably got some sort of psychosis. A lot of writers are a little crazy. Or a lot crazy. I truly believe that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. I'm not a genius, so guess what side of the line I dwell on? It's certainly a challenge to live with so many people inside of you vying to tell their stories and you happen to be their sole channeler, the singular conduit through which they find their way into the world of print and hence the reader's imagination.

I'll probably give it a whirl, but don't put me down as a lifer.

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