What would get me driving through the crummy Colorado snow on a day when it hit 83 degrees in Chicago? A writer's group. I've been on a family ski vacation in Steamboat Springs this week, and as I'm not a skier, I've been looking for other ways to pass the time when everyone else is up on the slopes.
So I've spent the week reading and writing, just like at home. As I was looking through a visitor's guide, I found a listing for the Steamboat Springs Writer's Group. They welcome drop-ins and visitors, so I schlepped through the snow to hang out with writers.
The group was wonderful. About 10 or 12 members attended today, but they sometimes get up to 20. This group has been around for more than 25 years and they meet every Thursday. Folks read their work -- up to ten minutes -- and there's a brief discussion of their work afterward. It's not a hearty critique like I'm used to in writing workshop, but people offer off the cuff reactions and insights.
I read the opening scene of my current novel, just three pages. I received feedback that I should get to the crux of the story sooner. Even with three pages, they wanted the story to move faster. Some folks disagreed with that, but the topic was debated enough to signal that it's something to think about it.
And I've heard so many different ways of saying that an author owns her work, and you can certainly ignore any critique comments you like. But in this group, Cesare gave a unique interpretation of this rule that I will never forget. He said, "If you don't like our comments, just flush 'em!"
They invited me to coffee afterward, and I sat and chatted with these writers who live on ranches or ski every Sunday -- a completely different set of writers than I'd ever met. It was a wonderful experience. If you're ever in Steamboat Springs, check them out on Thursdays at noon at The Depot. They'll be happy to have you.