All right, my cartoon may be a bit of an exaggeration. Writer’s critique groups probably haven’t been around as long as that. Critics most likely have, though. I’m sure someone told one of those cave artists that he didn’t like the shade of red that he used.
But the truth is, writers have been getting together to talk about their craft and to bounce ideas off of one another for ages. At least since 1816, anyway. I bring this particular year up because during that year’s rainy summer, four writers happened to be doing just that at a villa in Switzerland. It was pouring outside and they were getting cabin fever. One of them was Lord Byron and he said to the other three, “Hey, how about we all write a scary story? Just for giggles!”
Percy Shelly, a poet, turned to his girlfriend. “Mary, what do you think?” he asked her.
“I’m game,” she told him.
“Why not?” added John Polidori, the fourth writer in the group. “What else is there to do in this damn weather?”
And so they wrote. Polidori comes up with an idea that he titles, “The Vampyre.” It’s gone down in history as the first modern vampire story and kind of started the whole genre. Mary, who would later marry Percy, penned a chilling little number that she called, “Frankenstein.” You might have heard of it. Byron and Shelly ripped theirs up after reading those two.
What’s the point of all this, you ask. It’s to show you that if you are a writer, it’s good to meet with others of your kind; Those of a like mind. People who will understand when you tell them that you have voices in your head. They won’t look at you strangely when you complain that, “The character I just wrote keeps answering me back and won’t listen to what I say!” Yeah…try telling that to someone who isn’t a writer. But most importantly, joining a writer’s group will make you write!
I joined the little bunch I’m with about three years ago. Unfortunately, we don’t meet at a villa in Switzerland. We meet at a library. But it doesn’t matter if you meet in someone’s garage. The point is having people with whom you can get together on a regular basis to talk with about writing and to learn from. The group I belong to showed me that I could write, and then they made me write. I have a short story published and a novel I’m getting ready to shove out the door. Several other short stories will, hopefully, be released in an anthology before the year is up. I wouldn’t have written a word if I had never joined the group.
Writing is a solitary and sedentary endeavor. If nothing else, joining a writers group will help you make a few new friends and get you out of that chair.