I’m a little sad that my writing group isn’t going to get together tonight, and I’m even sadder because of the reason. Not one of us has anything to critique. Sure, we could have met anyway, but since the primary purpose of the group is to help each other become better writers, it’s a bit pointless to sit around and yap about writing. Or is it?
One of the things I’ve learned since beginning this journey into the writing world is that I’m a novice. No, I’m even further behind that that. I’m like a first grader, and all around me are middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students, and graduate students (in a manner of speaking). The people in my group have been at this game longer than I have and have taught me numerous things. Who knew not to overuse to be verbs but instead to replace them with something stronger, more colorful or forceful? I also need to watch the “ly” endings, gerunds, contractions, and exclamation points. Gee whiz!
Except for Diane and me (Diane and I?), every person in the group writes fiction and poetry. Since they’re good writers, it’s fun for me to read and critique their work, but I’m not sure how much pleasure they get from reading my nonfiction pieces. As one of my brothers remarked, much of my writing seems a bit didactic. Ouch! Maybe that comes from being in the classroom for 30+ years. Still, like troopers, the writers in my group do what they signed on for and dutifully read and critique my work.
So while I’ll miss meeting with them, there are plenty of things I can do. For instance, earlier today I read some good advice from writer Zadie Smith. “When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.” Although I’m not a child in terms of years, I’m definitely one in terms of writing skills.
So what I should I do? Read, read, read. I think tonight is a good time to start this month’s book club book, One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash. I’m sure he’s mastered the skills of showing, not telling, and could teach me a thing or two about writing.