I've been caught red-handed! Last night I went to my first-ever writers' group and felt a bit like I'd been found out. During our time together I wondered if any of the other members of this new group could see through my façade. Would they guess that I was an imposter?
First--and perhaps most pertinent of all--I am not a writer. I suspect that one of the two gentlemen there was clairvoyant. As we went around the table telling our personal stories by way of introduction, he jotted down several notes and questions, which he posed at a break in the conversation. The first was: "What is a writer?" Had he peered into my soul? Indeed, what is a writer. From what I've heard, a writer writes. That is to say, a writer is defined not by who she is but what she does. Well, that immediately precludes me from the title. I don't write, at least words on a page. I mean, I do write words all day long in my head. But I don't think that activity qualifies me for such a title. Somehow I judge that a writer is one who not only frequently does so but who can--and does--sit often in front of a blank page and begins to actually set to print what is on her mind. She doesn't find reasons to avoid the activity altogether.
The second notion that occurred to me as we talked around that table is that a writer also can identify sound writing and why it fits that category. Toward the end of the evening we experimented with critique (a pompously French, polite sounding word that oozes euphemistically while really waiting to stab you in the back!) by listening to one member read a few lines from the book she's been working on. Oh no! I thought. They'll find me out for sure now when they see that not only am I not a good judge of the best writing but I also can't articulate what I like and why. Writers, I surmise, can do a much, not only with others people's writing but also with their own. My secret would be out as soon as it came time for me to share my criticisms.
Apparently being an imposter does not preclude one from being a member of a writers' group. In spite of my lack of qualifications they spoke as if I am invited back. Maybe they see something salvageable here or maybe they just feel sorry for me. Either way, I'm game...until they decide we should impose a writing exercise on ourselves during a meeting!