Last time, I mentioned our group’s interview process, and in the comments, I was asked to clarify. So, if you’re looking for more info on that, it’s in the comments for Pt. 2.
So, now we had a group, and we had some rules. A few times in hour history, however, our membership dropped. The weekly commitment proved too much for many of us, leaving us with three people at one point. And if one person can’t make a three-person meeting, the meeting gets called. Two of the three of us had small children, so the occasional miss was unavoidable, but it got to be where we would go for two or three weeks without meeting. As the one without small children, I was a bit peeved by this. ^_^
We needed new blood. But how to get it? Well, the internet seemed to hold the key. My husband and I had created a webpage for Writer’s Ink, and now seemed the perfect time to put it to use. We needed to steer traffic toward it. We put Writer’s Ink on an online listing for writers’ groups in TX. We put an ad on Craig’s List. I scattered fliers all over town. It took awhile, but eventually, we had some submissions.
At one point, we had enough that we could give some acquired members the axe. This is always a hard thing to do. But one had sporadic attendance, and we had promised ourselves that we wouldn’t be a “drop-in” group, so we had to send him an email telling him to look us up again when he had more time. Lucky for us, he was very gracious.
Another member made it all the way into the group before we realized that, for him, honesty and brutality had to go hand in hand. If we weren’t willing to be brutal to one another, he said, then we clearly just wanted to sit around and give each other compliments. We tried to impress upon him that this wasn’t the case, but he persisted. When he got a polite email, telling him that his personality didn’t mesh with the rest of the group, he was very upset and fired back several emails, trying to argue. As I recall, we just had to say, “We’re done,” and not respond further. Now, when people join, we give them a copy of The Diplomatic Critiquer by Andrew Burt. The honesty = brutality people usually get the message straightaway and don’t bother.
So, that’s it, really. To find the right writing group, you have to be willing to look, to try out several and ask yourself how far you’re willing to drive. When I moved away from Houston to College Station, I thought I would have to give up Writer’s Ink, but I just couldn’t. Each week, I drive the two hours down to Sugar Land or over to east Houston. I try to schedule other Houston activities on the same day to stretch out the time between driving. Two hours has become a small price to pay for a good group.
And if you can’t find one, make one! It’s hard, sure, but it’s sooo worth it. If you need any tips or advice, feel free to ask. Writer’s Ink will have it’s fifth anniversary this Fall.