I'm not quite sure what I expected would be the first thing that happened when I walked into the first meeting of my new writers' group yesterday, but it wasn't what actually did.
"Oh, good, you're here! We have clothes for you to try on."
Yes, I inaugurated my membership in The Injustice League by twirling around Ellen and Delia's living room in a sundress and straw hat.
I got an email earlier this year from Cat asking if I wanted to be in a writers' group. I typed yes so loudly I'm pretty sure she didn't need the internet to tell her my answer. I have a great group of beta readers, but I'd craved having a group of people that I could really talk with about writing, where we would be responsible to and supportive of each other, people to crack stories open with and see how they (the stories, not the people) work.
So I was really excited to meet, but I was also sort of scared. The line up of the rest of the group was pretty star-powered - it was like looking at a table of contents and recognizing everyone's name except mine. And while Cat has bought stories from me before, and Lev has read for me, there's a big difference between sending a polished version of something to an editor, and sending off a story whose seams are still showing (I originally typed that as "seems are still showing," and, believe me, those were, too) to a group of really smart and talented people and asking them to pick it apart.
And then the story I wrote, hard against the deadline, took a turn for the uncomfortably personal in the writing, and, well.
But the group was amazing. Everyone was kind and friendly and brilliant. Best of all, everyone was committed to the idea that we are there to help the others write their stories, in their ways, not to change them to what we want to read. I was given a gift, and it wasn't just the bag of clothes I took home on the LIRR.
And this morning, in the middle of the grocery store, the real, true ending of the story we workshopped yesterday burst across my brain. It's not what I expected, but it is exactly what is needed.