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Friday
Aug272010

Writing Groups: Mixed or single genre?

9 of the dozen or so writers at our first official meeting. 6 pictured here and me (in the green) now form the core group.I've belonged to a summer writing group since late May and today being August 27th, summer is almost over. I must decide now whether to continue with this group, drop it, or forge a new group based on what I've learned from my first experiences at forming a serious writing group.

My three goals for the summer were to read a novel every other week, to write every week and read one story at every meeting, and to submit work to lit mags. I'm happy that I met all three goals and used the structured bi-weekly meetings as a way to keep me going over the summer. It worked.

So what's at issue?

I created the group first with an invitation to women whose work I admired in my MFA classes at Hamline University. Then I welcomed anyone else these women wanted to invite. After several meetings it boiled down to a core group of us, a lovely cohesive and extremely talented bunch of 6 or 7 creative non-fiction writers and me. I've written plenty of CNF, but my focus is fiction, and I find it interesting that only CNF writers really stuck it out or found the common bond. Granted, when I first met some of these women, they were pursuing fiction or poetry, but they've since landed on the CNF side of the fence.

I love my sister writers dearly, respect their input, talent, and honesty completely, but I'm feeling the need to surround myself with like-minded fiction writers, men and women who recognize the challenges and understand the nuances that makes fiction worthy of the storytelling.

It's like I'm the token, but well-loved, fiction-head amongst the truth-sayers of CNF. I know we all strive to tell truths, however, there are marked differences between the forms. My CNF friends assure me that all the genres inform each other, and I agree, but at what point does a writer need support from her own genre clan?

I will probably continue with my CNF writer friends since we will meet only once a month during classes and I enjoy the camaraderie. But after that?

I'd love to hear from you if you have an opinion about writing groups, mixed or homogeneous genres, and how writing groups can and cannot meet the needs of developing as well as mature writers. Please leave a comment here or email me with your thoughts: wendyannskinner@gmail.com