About three years ago, I walked into the Open Eye Café, hoping to find a writer's group. I knew I needed one if I was going to get back on the wagon after the baby hiatus. I'm not self-motivated. I need deadlines, expectations to fulfill. Otherwise my writing gets shuffled lower and lower on the huge to-do list I call my life.
So, I was hopeful. And nervous. For lots of reasons.
First, we were in the Open Eye Café, one of those coffee shops that has a really loyal clientele, the kind that makes anyone new that walks through the door feel like a real intruder, and judges you by what kind of coffee concoction you order. I didn't know if my potential writer's group friends were regulars, or if this was just neutral ground chosen for vetting new members. I am not a coffee connoisseur. I always order a skinny raspberry mocha. Always. And drinking one makes me talk too fast.
Second, I hate meeting people. Those first impression moments fill me with tremendous dread (strangely, this doesn't apply in teaching situations--I like meeting new students). And I didn't know anyone in this room. My husband had found the group for me through one of those "make a group" sites--I can't remember if it was gather or meetup or craigslist or whatever. (I've often teased my husband that I dated him because I didn't have to meet him. I already knew him when my first marriage ended.)
And lastly, these women wrote NOVELS. And they were serious about it.
Novels are long.
I'd never written anything longer than 75 pages--and that was academic. I didn't have to make it up. There was a lot of quoting. I was pretty sure that novels are longer than 75 pages. And that you have make up every word. Everything good I ever wrote was short--an essay, a poem, a vignette (nice little word for unclassifiable prose too short to be publishable).
I was intimidated as hell.
I've worked with this group for three (or is it four?) years now. I love them. I know about their novels and their lives. And I'm still intimidated as hell. Nearly every woman in the group has actually finished a novel. Some of them have even published them.
But here, at the end of 2011, I think I may actually finish my novel! The end is in sight. I think I even know how it ends (if the characters will stop changing things on me). I'm so excited--and scared. It's the biggest thing I've ever made that wasn't a human being (and those human beings I made aren't done yet--they're still growing).
But still, I've made it through the long haul (almost). I, at least, can believe that I will make it through.
Then the real work begins: rewrites!