09 March, 2011


I have a writing group meeting on Saturday. This is my first meat-world writing group ever. I've had Zero as my e-reading group for... ever. Eight years? Something like. (Although she has fallen down on the job in the last year and has two novels backed up. I am starting to feel unloved.) Nous reads, too, but only sporadically, what with the diss. And the Rat reads all my manuscripts with her unsentimental brutality and makes my words better every time. But real, live in-flesh people to read and gulp, give feedback on the spot? That's new. All of these people are new, too, except one, and she is my friend/coworker, and I've only read short bits of her writing. They all know each other. And this group used to be Elizabeth George's group. A couple of them are Seriously Published, some are unpublished, and some, like me, are sporadically published. So. The plan, for this first meeting, is to bring something we can read in 10-15 minutes, something current that we're working on.

I feel a little sick.

I don't know how out-loud-readable my work actually is. The Rat says--not very. Sometimes I do things with grammar that would make my English teachers cry. (Yes, they let me teach composition. Scary.) I write a lot of the time for rhythm and flow--how the words sound in my head as I write them, cadence, the number and balance of stresses and beats in a phrase. I also intercut lines with other lines and cross-cut thoughts. There's an element of performance to reading out loud that scares the hell out of me. I am no actor. But then I teach, don't I, and that's a good 75% performance. More than.

Writing is a matter of talent, skill, sure, but it's also about taste. And I write genre. Friend P. assures me that others here write genre, too, and one even writes SF, and P. herself reads and loves spec-fic, so I will fit right in. I hate, by the by, the habit that makes me say that--I write genre--as if I am confessing a sin, as if I should be ashamed. But I am also used to the nose-wrinkling from the MFA types when they hear genre, as if literary fiction isn't a genre of its very own.

But let's be honest. What scares me is that a bunch of people who do not know me will think that I suck. Which I don't, I know that--I am a good writer. Other strangers spared the experience of meeting me face to face have purchased my work and put it in their publications. I know I do not suck, and yet--I am reduced to being 10 again, moving into a new school, and trying to figure out how I am going to fit into a bunch of people who've known each other for years.

Sweet ancestors, this isn't even about the words on the page, this is about being the new kid. Now I just need to decide what to wear read.


  1. I am a good writer.



    I am a [damn] good writer.


    There. Much better after a drive by edit.

  2. I think it is every writer's fear that their writing does not clothe them at all, but rather strips them bare.

    Which, I suppose, explains the tawdry webcam diva feel of some of the literary fiction we've seen.