Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dangerous Minds

I recently stumbled across the link, The four hidden dangers of writing groups I've been trying to absorb all writing resources like a nasty old kitchen sponge, so of course I read this ominous link. At the moment, I'm reading, The Elements of Style by William Strunk. Stephen King highly recommended it in his book On Writing. Good one Steve. I'm convinced Stephen King was playing a cruel joke on us writers when he recommended this tortuous mini tome. Actually, it's a very helpful book on punctuation and grammar. And heck, that's my achilles's heel. But can't you just picture Stephen King cackling with demonic flair as he added that resource to his book? I can. He has a devious mind. Of course, that's what I like about him too.

I thought I'd have a little fun. Here's what I think the 4 hidden dangers of writing groups are based on my experience. 

1) Those that can't, teach. There's always those people in the group that really sound like they know what they're talking about. Qualified? Hell yes. They sound like they went to writing school on a space ship culled with gifted humans. The little green martians with brains the size of watermelons beamed them up for class at 8 am earth time. They went to Celestial school for around 100 years. (The equivalent of 1 martian year) And then were let loose to wander among writers and us dumb folk. Well, these know it alls don't always know how to write! Go figure.

2) The player. This guy is a writer. Well, he's written something or other. That's all that can really be proven. It could be a shopping list or a note to self.  But he's really more interested in dating a writer. Or a woman that's breathing and can lend him a pencil. 

3) The absentee. They sign up for group with no intention of ever going. They might feel the pressure of a real life meet up will give them the kick in the ass they need to put pen to paper. But then they get a hot date. Or they decide to watch Homeland. Or they think their Schwan's frozen dinner will get cold. I don't know why they are no shows. But it's fun to imagine why.

4) The retired teacher. These people are bored. They may be able to write. I'll give them that. But their real purpose of attending group is they need to fix, teach or torture somebody. And with a blood red pen, they'll give you a critique alright. They'll skin you alive! They might even rewrite your whole piece. Just because boring is better. A note to creative challenged retired teachers of the world. Boring is for William Strunk books!


DJan said...

I loved Elements of Style. It's so... boring! I think I might be qualified to be a #4, Sharon. It's been decades since I last went to a writing group. It was anything but fun: my red pen was worn out in nothing flat. :-)

Karl Jorgenson said...

Hahaha! May I offer category 5, of which I am a card-carrying member. This is the guy who has his peculiar style--and his style may be very peculiar--and he can't resist 'critiquing' that transforms whatever he's looking at to his style. Harlequin romance becomes action thriller, coming of age historical becomes action thriller, steam-punk Y/A becomes . . . high fantasy with a lot of action (because they can't all be action-thrillers.)

Stewart M said...

Funny - I just can't bear the idea of taking myself seriously enough to join these groups - I write for fun, and dont want to get 'all serious' about it! Maybe I should take the plunge and join up!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Marie C said...

Excellent post! I have devoured so many writing "helps" that bought for my book collection. This list is "right on." I will send you an email soon, I promise.