Monday, March 24, 2008

Great Falls Festival of the Book

So Fred Bridger and I will be waxing pontific at the Great Falls Public Library on March 29 on the value of establishing and maintaining a writing community. That was the topic of my graduate lecture and an issue dear to my heart; how do we, who are so dialed in to the inner radio, interact with one another? How and why do you get introverts together? And what do you do when everyone's there? I now have a group of people I trust to be both generous and honest in their criticism of my work, and I try to give that back in return. I was fortunate to avoid the sort of bleak maim-and-be-maimed atmosphere of some MFA programs; I'll never forget having a conversation with David Jauss about that. He said he and several others of my instructors had barely survived that themselves and had resolved that their students would not have to be impeded that way.

Different people, of course, want different things from their writing community. It took me a long time to find a group, and in the end, it happened through intention and work. My friends and I created a community of writers I treasure. (Before we formed our current group and I was looking, I was fired from one group because I was too new to the craft - and truthfully, at the time, I gave the sorts of crits that drive everyone crazy, like "I don't think your character would do (whatever)." I was told I could join a group but I could never use a cuss word. Another person offered that I could join a therapeutic group - that one cost money. I forget how much. Another group tried to include everyone in the world and died after on an endlessly long, bad story submitted by the founder. The protag was so miserable I wanted to kill it . . . slowly.)

At any rate, we've got much more in common than we have differences, and ain't we funny?

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