What’s the story of The Would-Be Writers Guild? How did it all begin?
In summer 2002, I worked up the courage to try an idea I’d been kicking around for a few months—a writing group where members write together and read to each other. I made up a flyer that gave information for the first meeting and a promise that I wasn’t selling anything. I delivered them around my neighborhood to friends and other people I thought might be interested in writing. I think five people showed up to the first meeting, a few more the next week, and most of that group are still coming today. My original idea was to meet weekly for the remaining weeks of the summer, but by the last meeting it was unanimously decided that we should continue meeting on a monthly basis.
What do you do at your meetings?
In theory, the idea sounds a little odd, I know. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Other than the baby kitten we sacrifice at the beginning of each meeting, everything is very low-key. (Just wanted to see if you were paying attention here.) Okay, here’s basically what we do: First, we repeat our pledge together, and if there’s anything we’re really serious about, it’s the pledge. We believe every word of it. Next, we read a few Good Poems. Then, we read our homework to each other, laughing and/or crying when necessary. Homework is followed by one or two short timed writing exercises that we read to each other as well. One person is assigned the treat each month and we nibble and snack and munch all the while. After two hours, we decide a homework topic and part ways.
What’s hard to convey here is the reason why this works. There’s no question that there is a therapeutic element to this system. Everybody has a chance to express anything she wants in an environment that is warm and supportive and overflowing with throw pillows. We don’t give critical feedback. When we began, I expected there to be a constructive criticism element, but that’s not our style at all. We like everything. Whatever you wrote—it’s good enough. Actually, it’s great. In fact, could you read that last part again? I like the way you described your shoes feeling heavy like a wet brick.
Can I join?
Unfortunately for now, my family room (where we meet) is at full capacity. The fire marshall would have some serious issues with any more people in there.
However, I would love to help you start up a group of your own. (Seriously, you can do it.) Contact me at info [at] wouldbewritersguild [dot] com for more details.
Why do you call yourselves “would-be writers”? Isn’t that self-discouragement?
You can read my lengthy answer in a post I wrote here.
If you have a question that you would like to ask frequently, please email me at info [at] wouldbewritersguild [dot] com and I will reply with haste!