Monday, February 23, 2015

Writers' Group: the unexpected joys

I really like getting feedback on my story. I like to know what everyone noticed, liked, didn’t like, etc. As I’ve written before, it’s not as helpful to get feedback on an incomplete story as it is to get feedback on a completed one, but it’s still rewarding as fuck to get kudos on something you worked really hard on, and nudges to keep you on the right track. It’s awesome, and my Writers’ Groupmates—who are also my friends—are really unbelievably good at giving even critical feedback in a very positive way. No one is overly harsh, but no one is afraid to point out weaknesses, either. We’re all here for the same thing, to get to be better writers; and that can’t happen without taking a nice, long, painful look at our weakest points.

But a thing I found, that for some reason I didn’t anticipate when my friend suggested we form the group, was that... I really like reading their work. Not a one among them has bored me, or made me face-palm, or caused me to do creative word ballet in order to make negative feedback sound positive, or, god forbid, made me lie. I rabidly anticipate each person’s next installment, and it’s never enough. I want more! Right now!

I pride myself on being a very critical reader. I had one of the best Lit classes in college, so that’s how you know I’m a professional. But seriously, I can enjoy a poorly-written book, but I know it’s a poorly-written book. And while not a single one of us is the next Edith Wharton or Herman Melville, I haven’t read any poorly-written books from them yet. And I’ve seen all of their styles and competencies evolve and mature, frequently by leaps and bounds, and I think that each one of them could be published one day, if that’s what they want.

It makes me a little sad when my friends are afraid to share their work; although I’m familiar with anxiety and depression and other mental potholes, it does (against my better judgement) make me wonder why? What did we do to make anyone think that they would get anything but accolades? I love reading their writing; it’s like a little, crystal-clear and fish-eye window into their souls, distilled through poetry and prose and stage-direction and dialogue. I never knew that my friends were such wordsmiths, and it’s like... it’s like seeing who or what they want to be, with all the chaff fallen aside. I see the things they think about, the things that interest them, undictated and undirected by any third party: designed entirely by them. The social issues that concern them float to the top, even if they don’t intend for them to. I long for their words to fly free, because we never get so clean and naked as when we find the right word for that one elusive emotion. I want each of my friends to feel that when they open the cage of their words in the midst of our group, the plumage will be a source of joy for all, and never a reason to cringe or cower.

Anyway, this post is an homage to my Writers’ Group. I want to link to each of them so that the love can be spread around, but I didn’t get their permissions in advance, so I will come back to that if they say it’s cool.


Becky Munyon said...

Aww thanks. That's really sweet.

Rachel S. said...

You're a dear!