I recently tried to co-lead a writing group. The one I went to was getting so popular that it routinely had a waiting list almost as long as the roster of the event itself. The organizer was thrilled when I offered to help by splitting the group in two and letting the waitlist participate. When the library we met at closed for renovations we moved to a coffeeshop, noisy and with an implied expectation to buy expensive sugar and caffeine. I suggested my school library, which is huge and open to the public.
My group in the school library was a tremendous success. We found a place easily and it was quiet and undisturbed. A woman from India shared a poem using a ship metaphor to describe her life. Next we listened to a prologue of a post-apocalyptic medieval story. After the devastation, royalism returned, so it’s a story of futuristic princes and court politics.
Then I got a notification that the official organizer was moving the event back to the coffeeshop. As it turned out, her group got kicked out of their room. Understandable how that might upset someone. Shortly after we decided to split our groups. I would run one on the Tuesdays that hers did not meet.
This time I found out that I could reserve rooms at the library as a former student. So, we now had a guaranteed location where we would be the ones kicking people out if it came to it. Futuristic royalism again and another man maybe a little older than me came to share excellent, insightful writing advice along with the most metal short story ever written, about a noise band who play so hard their fingers fall off and they fuse with their instruments to become horrifying monsters. I read from my revised Cleaners novel, which is shaping up to be radically different from the online version.
The next week, I continued the successful reservation strategy and got the metal man and the poem-writing woman again. They both agreed that when one of my characters is thrilled that her house is so clean “It’s like my kids never existed” she is committing a crime against motherhood so ghastly that no real parent could possibly find her believable. The metal man read a supernatural heist / horror story about glowing blue rodents and the poem-writing woman asked for advice for a relative writing college admissions essays.
The metal man told me that I can’t use “giggled” as a synonym for “said.” He explained that this was simply a rule because you can’t giggle and talk at the same time. I see the concern, but I tried giggling and talking at the same time a few times, and I believe it is possible. This may be a rule I’ll have to break.