Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sometimes, it's not a good fit

A few years back, I joined a local writer's group. There were about a eight or ten regulars who met to critique and discuss our writings. Each week, we brought copies for the group and read aloud eight pages of our work.

The second time I attended, I read a one page synopsis. One member who'd just had her first book accepted for representation by a literary agent, followed along as I read, then said, "This is all wrong. I'd suggest... oh never mind, I'll just take it home and fix it."

Hang on. It's my synopsis. How can you fix something you didn't write and haven't read?

The third time I attended, I read the prologue of my manuscript. One guy, let's call him Adam, had this to say:

"First, let me just stop you right here. Prologues are the kiss of death to a book. I attended a seminar at a conference and they discussed at length writers should never include a prologue."

I said, "Okay, well, this is all I have for now."

Next, a nice little old lady with bad knees, Macie, read her eight pages. Her story was sweet, no bad words, no sex unless married, and the plot centered around a female policeman who was engaged to be married. It was the stuff old ladies love to read and she'd published four in this series already. Obviously somewhere, she had a following.

Adam (condescendingly) asked, "Where did you publish? Have you received any royalties?"

Macie, a little taken aback, said, "Well, yes, I've received royalties on all of my books."

By now, I've had enough of Adam. "Have you published?" I (innocently polite) asked.

"No, I finished my manuscript last year and sent out a few queries, but haven't done that in several months. Just been too busy."

My thought, "Well, then, Sparky, what do you know about any of this?"

I've been in a metal tube, stuck on a taxiway for an hour, and not had passengers speak to me in the negative tones some of these folks used. On three occasions, I had members contact me to apologize for comments made to me by other members during a meeting.

This group was more like the blind leading the blind. Other than Macie, very few had been published anywhere. I hung in there for over a year before I finally called it quits. I continued to pay my yearly dues because they were cheap and it was one of the few credits I could put on a query.

Now, living out in the country, there are no groups near enough to make it work for me anyway, but I miss being a part of a reading group.

I don't miss Adam and the others like him. A writers' group should be encouraging, supportive, knowledgeable, and share information on techniques and the industry. Not a platform for wanna-bees.

Sometimes, it's not a good fit.

Thanks for stopping by.

Be sweet.


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