Ode to a Writing Group

When you know you've met someone special, you don't want to ever let them go. That's the way it is with me and my current writing group. We started seeing each other more than five years ago when I lived in San Jose. And though it's now a long distance relationship, somehow we manage to keep the magic alive.

We just have great chemistry. Even five years in I am routinely surprised and pleased by the quality of the feedback I get.

Maybe it helps that we're all at a similar part of our careers. All four of us have just finished a novel -- or almost finished it, or really-almost-finished-it-and-I-mean-it-this-time. And this month one of our members (I'll call her the Poetess) had some big news. She has landed a literary agent, who is currently shopping her book around to publishers.

If you know me, you'll know what my first reaction was -- jealousy, and shame that I hadn't gotten there first. Because as much as I believe in the Poetess and want her to succeed, jealousy is never far away when I consider the success of other writers. That is just one of the less-than-exactly-likable qualities of me.

"I've got to get that book out there," I couldn't stop myself from saying. Another member (I'll call him Outlander) chimed in with "Yeah." And I could hear that he was feeling it too: that left-behind feeling, that gotta-get-my-butt-in-gear feeling. Which I suppose, for both of us, is a good thing.

We went on to discuss queries and climaxes, flashbacks and denouements along with our fourth member (Newshound). And by the end of it all we had decided to kick ourselves into fifth gear by meeting twice as often: every two weeks instead of every month.

And this is one of the things I love about my group: we roll with the punches. We're past the uninvested stage where everyone just goes with the original status quo. We accommodate each other, and we're not afraid to speak up when we want something to change.

Meeting twice a month is a little scary for me. Much as I appreciate them, there are times when I need to forget about Outlander, Newshound, and the Poetess; there are times when an impending meeting begins to feel like someone reading over my shoulder while I write. But I think it'll be, on balance, good for me. Because there's one word for how I feel following this week's meeting.