I’ve never been a joiner of clubs. Not since the Blue Birds, the Campfire Girls, and Horizon Club. Maybe the weight of all those beads dragged the joiner in me under at a tender age. I’ve never regretted my refusnik status. My banner is emblazoned with the old Groucho Marx riposte: I’d never join a club that would have me as a member. Never until this weekend, anyway.
Enter the Atlanta Writers Club. I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when the AWC invited me to speak on my (very) long path to publication. Who were these people? Why did they bother to gather monthly to talk about writing when everyone knows the only way to write is to sit down and do it? There’s a reason writing is called the lonely art. The first thing that’ll kill it is to have someone looking over your shoulder while you’re trying to work.
So I went there with a few preconceptions. (Always a bad idea.) I figured I’d be speaking to the young and uncommitted. While I crafted my speech, I worried they’d be too young to comprehend a couple of my cultural references and I played up my matronly status,thinking that if the young’uns could identify with me as a sweet ole mama, I’d be golden. I stressed perserverance and good luck as the keys to my success but I hoped the first quality was the one they’d remember. You know how flighty the young can be.
And then I walked into the Student Union at Georgia Perimeter College in Dunwoody and saw my audience. About fifty or sixty writers, if my dismal ability to assess such matters can be trusted, most of whom were grey-haired, if they weren’t dyed, white, or bald. There were a smattering of people in their 30s, I think, but only a handful in their 20s. Probably young in this crowd meant 40 on average. Clearly not the group I expected.
These were serious, accomplished people. Witness George Weinstein, author of Hardscrabble Road, a Pulitzer nominee. Romance author, Nicki Salcedo, who if the sample of her work provided here http://www.8headedhydra.com/readers-life/maize is any indication will take romance to a literary level in her debut novel, All Beautiful Things, soon to appear out of Belle Bridge Books. And Soniah Kamal, whose short story available on Kindle here http://www.amazon.com/Runaway-Truck-Ramp-ebook/dp/B008NY55TG, gives one a taste of her raw, edgy take on a cross cultural love affair that takes one on a rollercoaster ride of the unexpected at every turn.
But if you know me, you know I’m used to being wrong. I sat down and listened to the preliminary speakers, a grammarian who talked above my head – I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about but maybe my frequent and intentional breaking of rules has something to do with that – the aforesaid George Weinstein who spoke on recycling and revising older work. There were awards given to the winners of a recent writing competition. And then I was up. In the end, I’m sure it was Southern hospitality in part, but the group seemed to like me. They laughed at all the right places, anyway, and their questions afterwards were cogent, incisive. They bought my book and chatted with me while I signed. Apparently, I was inspiring! Informative! Spot on!
And that was very nice to hear. I think I’ve come to comprehend why people join clubs. How good it is to hang with the like minded, focused on the same goal. I can see how these people help each other, support each other. And if only my thick-headed self hadn’t been a refusnik all those years, I like to think maybe these folks would have had me in their club. And that would have been a very good thing.