So, I mentioned yesterday that I had to read 50 pages of manuscript for my writers' group (yes, I did get it done on time), and one commenter expressed surprise at the volume of reading to be done, so I thought that today I would give a little summary of how my writing group functions, and how we found each other.
First of all, those 50 pages were in fact closer to 75 pages, but I shrunk the margins and spacing to save on printing costs. (I can't believe I'm running out of ink again.) This is because our group meets once a month, and reviews up to 100 pages of writing at a time. Originally, we thought that we might have a session split up between multiple authors (two writers with 50 pages each, for example) but so far it has been a one-session-per-author critique group. And it's working quite well.
There are no limitations on what kind of writing each person wants to present to the group. Most of us are working on novels, but we also have a memoirist, and someone recently submitted 5 short stories for us to consider, because she wanted help picking which ones she should submit to an MFA program.
There are no rules about how polished the work has to be in order to be submitted. I was basically done when I submitted my pages, and I was looking for assistance with my final polish. But yesterday we had someone who was in the very early stages of the work, who wanted creative feedback and guidance with character before he'd committed too much to paper. (Personally, I think that's extremely brave, and I hope he walked out of our session feeling encouraged and inspired.)
We call ourselves the Upton Street Writers... we were supposed to be named after the street where we host most of our meetings, but it turns out that we screwed up and got the address wrong. There is no Upton Street. But it sounded even better than the name of the real street, and we decided not to fix our mistake. Upton Street Writers. Dig it.
And how did we meet? The founding members of the Upton Street Writers were students in a local Novel Development Workshop. We were very lucky -- all of us were of a similar skill set and a similar state of mind. There was no one with irreparably bad grammar and delusions of grandeur, no one who thought s/he was finished learning, no one who felt the need to dominate every discussion. (I think we were assisted by the fact that the course required all of us to have a novel in progress, so that even those students who had very few pages to start out with were nevertheless quite serious about the endeavor.)
So we stuck together. We've lost a couple members when they moved out of the city for work/school obligations, but we've brought in replacement members who have been "vetted" by original members. Our original group was 9 people, and I don't think we'll ever want to go over 10-12, lest we lose our cozy vibe.
I now open the floor for questions and comments. Anything you want to know about my current writing group? Do you have a group yourself? If so, how many people are there, how often do you meet, how much material do you review at one time, and how did you find each other? Have you ever been in a particularly good or bad writing group? Tell us all about it!