Oh, and the critiquing was cool, too.
Last night was interesting. It was a small meetup this time around, with four other people in attendance. Rose and I bought our pizza before everyone else showed up, not knowing the dining etiquette of the group. Turns out it’s an informal rotation, with someone just randomly buying the pizza. The other members showed up, ate the pizza when it arrived, and the meeting began.
Everyone except Rose and me brought excerpts from writing projects (I didn’t have anything ready or suitable, in my opinion). One person would read aloud, and then we would go around the table and offer our thoughts on the piece. I know I said I would probably just sit and observe, and I probably could have gotten away with it if I insisted, but I ended up participating like everyone else. I wouldn’t call my critique skills impressive, but I hope I performed adequately.
Rose got to show off her dramatic skills when one author asked her to read. She’s so cute.
After the meeting ended, four of us played a game called Kung Fu Fighting. Holy bananas, it was fun, even if I was eliminated first. I want this game.
Anyway, everyone seemed very cool, and I enjoyed the evening, even if I was nervous. Will I go back? I’m not sure yet. The face-to-face aspect was a good change from my usual “I’ll pass on the social interaction, thank you, but hand me more of that surfing the net alone” habit, and the critiques seemed well done. On the other hand, the allowed page count anyone can bring is limited by necessity due to group size and amount of time each critique receives, and I feel like I would be a more effective critiquer if I had more time to analyze a piece of work and formulate my response. Also, I would only be able to attend every other meetup, at most. So, we’ll see if I continue with the group.
And now, I have several days off to enjoy.
I decided to take the plunge and go to the critique group tonight. It’s a no-lose situation, really — even if I don’t click with the group, I’m getting pizza.
This post seems especially relevant, since Rose is coming with me. Now, even though she is the right height for it, I have to remind myself not to use her as a crutch. She is there to have fun and to make me feel comfortable, but I still have to socialize. Even so, I think, since this is my first time attending, I will most likely spend the night in observation rather than actively participating. I want to get a feel for the group and how they do things.
Now, just another hour until pizza! I mean, fun with humans. Yeah, the second one.
I stand on the edge of a cliff. Behind me is safety. Before me is quite the opposite. The plunge ends in a pool, but I can’t tell how deep the water is. Maybe it would cushion my dive, or maybe I would slam into the bottom and break my bones. One foot is over the edge. I could just let myself fall.
* * * * *
I’m considering joining a critique group. I was a part of Critters years ago. I never actually submitted anything of my own there, but I did some critiques of others’ works.
My reasons are twofold. Firstly, when I actually get around to writing something finally, it would be good to get an outside perspective on it. Secondly, and this is the part that relates to that bit at the very top of this post, I thought it might be good for me to socialize with other writers. Socialize as in seeing someone in person and speaking to them with my voice. Yeah, social intercourse in the flesh.
It may not seem revolutionary, but for me, it is. I am shy. I daresay cripplingly so. People who have known me for some time may forget this, because if I know you and like you, I am much more open. But if I do not know you, and if I am in a strange situation, chances are I will close up tighter than an oyster during pearl season.
I found a local critique group on Meetup, and even better, one which focuses on speculative fiction. I even went so far as to join the group. Turns out they meet every week.
See, I expected maybe bimonthly or monthly. Don’t these people have lives? Who meets every week, man? At least if I had a few extra weeks to psych myself up, I could go to one of their meetings in some sort of comfort. But now, knowing how soon a meeting is, I am backpedaling. Comfort zone violated. Abort, abort! Full retreat!
I’m not saying I’ll never go, mind you. Maybe I’ll even go to this week’s meeting rather than putting it off until a future one. Still, it freaks me out. I’m just supposed to walk in there? Do I introduce myself, or expect them to recognize me from my photo? Should I hide in the corner the first time and just watch them? Is it like a fraternity, and I have to do some humiliating pledge thing?
Maybe an online group would be better after all?