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This Year I Rewrite My Novel–Part XIII, Support Groups and Other Public Exposure

Every month or so, I meet with a group of three writers, all women, and we sit around and drink wine and talk about stories.

After I finished a MFA program, for years, I banned writing groups.

There would be casual invitations from writer friends to meet at pubs to talk about stories, little arbitrary deadlines set-up, and I’d almost always have an excuse not to participate. Not because I didn’t have anything to submit or because I didn’t enjoy reading people’s stories.

But because graduating from the MFA Program was like breaking off a very serious and intense relationship and I couldn’t afford to fool around with ANYTHING that resembled it.

Clearly, anything afterwards would be a rebound!

I’m glad I finished a MFA but I would never do it again.

It’s like one of those relationships that made you both proud and ashamed to be alive.

I wrote more in the MFA than in any other two-year period of my life. I made some ecstatically-alive, brilliant friends and worked with genius professors. But it was exhausting and the rest of my life seemed to be put on hold. It’s like one of those relationships that feels intensely good but also prevents you from keeping appointments and brushing your hair.

After my breakup (or graduation), I suddenly felt like I had no identity. It’s kinda like how after a relationship, you have to find the “I” inside the former “We?” (Cheesy but it’s also kind of true.) In the MFA, I was a “first-year” or a “second-year” or I was a “fiction writer” and suddenly out in the real world, I was just someone trying to make money and stay alive!

So everyone’s desire to start little writing groups seemed sorta sad to me. Like we were all clamoring for ways to “keep trucking.”

The groups felt like Alcoholics Anonymous. But we all knew each other personally, so we might’ve been alcoholics, but WE WERE NOT ANONYMOUS.

Maybe it’s just my own difficulty with public exposure. Not the exposure of my work but the exposure of my own vulnerability in front of a group people?

Maybe I was scared they’d smell my grief? Maybe I was the only one grieving? Maybe I was the only one who didn’t know who the heck I was other than a writer? It’s like meeting with your Ex and not being sure if he cares or not. It’s like being terrified that you may be the only one that hasn’t moved on and somehow feels terribly left behind.

It’s been four years since I graduated. And quite frankly, I’m over it.

I even went to the 2010 graduation to see my friends read (and drink free wine).

Now that I know who I am, it’s like I’m dating again. I know how to fill out my profile.

And I managed to find what I was looking for–my writing group–THREE lovely and brilliant ladies!

It was worth the wait.