Have you ever wanted to start a writer’s critique group, but been afraid that it wouldn’t work? I was … After all, not only did I have to invite people I didn’t really know and risk their not coming, I had to lead the meeting myself. My first choice with regard to leadership? I prefer to follow. I *can* lead, if there is no other way, but I tend to surrender the leadership of any given project at the first opportunity.
I don’t know why I am this way. I take heart in the fact that, according to Douglas Adams in Life the Universe and Everything, the kind of people who *want* to lead shouldn’t be allowed to. So maybe, since I don’t want to lead, I should?
There was no opportunity to be part of a local critique group without organizing it myself. I waited almost a year to find one, or for one to spontaneously form itself for my convenience. No dice.
So I had to be that person, the one who organizes something.
The day we were to meet, I went down to the coffee shop early and set up the table, and waited. This shop, Daz Bog, had already earned my gratitude by offering us a free room. I bought a coffee with soy milk.
Several people had emailed and said they were coming, so I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t be the only one there. But I now realized that was only half the problem. I was not just afraid of being stood up, I was afraid of leading a group.
When the writers came and sat down and looked at me, I took a big breath. Could I do this? At that point, there was really no alternative, or no easier one, than just doing it, so I began by introducing the format, explaining the order of reads, reading my own work for critique and running the timer.
And it was successful. All who wanted to read their work did so and got critiques, and enthusiasm was high. I was impressed by the seriousness and skill of these writers. “Thank you for doing this,” several said when it was time to leave. We agreed to meet in two weeks.
After it was over, I was pleased, chuffed even. And I began to think how I could make what had somehow become Fort Collins Writers Critique Group stronger, better, more effective, more prestigious. I had originally planned to shove the leadership off on someone else at the earliest possible moment. But did I really want to do that?
Maybe … this small critique group success was just the beginning of something bigger. I rolled that around in my head, smiled. This was better than I expected. This was something good.