I read and discussed a book a month with a group of women from work for about 10-12 years. We learned a lot about each other and read a lot of good books over those years. The group was made up of 2 librarians and 2 professors for most of the time. We had a few others come and go, but the 4 of us were the core group.
Of the 4, I am the only one who still works with my employer. Over the years, the others took different jobs or retired. Various life circumstances beyond leaving my college played out and we met less and less frequently. Then, one of us moved across the country. We said we’d meet online, but we never managed to do it.
At one point, I volunteered to try to figure out how we could meet online–I think I was supposed to look into Skype, but I slacked. I figured it just wouldn’t be the same and trying to figure out how to meet on Skype sounded confusing.
Enter quarantine. I started using Zoom for work and suddenly had a lot of time on my hands and not much contact with people. I emailed the group. Did they want to get together on Zoom. “Yes!!!” they all said emphatically.
I asked if we wanted to choose a book before meeting, or if we wanted to bring book options to the group. We originally decided on the latter, but before we chose a book, we met just to chat and ended up talking about what we were writing. One of us wanted feedback. Then, another said that she was writing something and could use feedback. I told the group about the blog and that I could use feedback. Finally, the 4th person said she was interested in writing something other than what she does for work, and she’d enjoy having us read it too.
This is the moment we metamorphosed from a Book Club into a Writing Club.
We decided we’d meet once a month. We’d share our writing a week in advance (we were all teachers of a sort, so setting due dates comes naturally), and the following week, we’d talk about each person’s writing for 15 minutes. That way we’d be on Zoom for just an hour.
Our first meeting was last week and it was so fun. I got some concrete feedback on my post about going back to school to pick up my plants and I revised it a day later. The main piece of advice I used was to create more tension–make people want to know whether the plants made it home safe. Now, whether plants survive is not a terribly dire situation, but I was truly worried about these plants at that time, so I created the tension the best i could.
I got some other great advice too. One person wanted to know the purpose of this blog, and another suggested I write more about some questions I put at the end of the plant post. Both of these are great prompts for the future.
The others’ writing was fun to read too. Two are writing personal essays or memoir-type pieces, and the third is writing fiction. One of her characters is super-sassy and I just didn’t picture her writing like this. I think we have more to learn about each other through this group.
Peace Out (and In),