The Magpie and the Starlings



I made an art form out of not fitting in when I was younger. I marched to the beat of my own bagpipes, and was spectacularly awkward at it to boot. Fortunately I grew out of this when I reached my teen years and moved to Washington. I found a group of like minded, awkward, funny, brilliant individuals who bonded with me strongly and gave me the social framework I rely on today. During the time I was with them, I didn’t write a single word that wasn’t related to my drama groups and gaming that I involved myself in. I had given up my passion forever, and I was just fine with that.

Now, I’m older, and my friends have spread out from the central mass we had in college. I don’t see everyone every night, in a week long frenzy of hanging out. Obladee, obladah, I found quieter ways to spend my time, one of them being writing.

The problem with writing is that while it is a wildly creative and interesting endeavor, it’s just like any other past time. To the right people, it’s fascinating. To most of the rest of the world, it’s great if they’re in a bookstore, browsing. But no one wants to talk the craft.

I get it. I have five fast friends who are fierce knitters, and they discuss wool quality and needle gauge and patterns they’re longing to try, as well as how many projects they’ve left abandoned in their closet of shame. I can’t add anything intellectual to these discussions, because despite my beloved grandmother’s constant and patient attempts, her granddaughter proved to be a hopeless case with anything yarn related. So I smile and nod, because I know eventually the discussion will turn to other topics.

Today I went out to lunch with a person who may become a friend. I think she will, or obviously I wouldn’t have gone to lunch with her. I’ve only met her twice before, so I only had an introduction to her, but one of the things I knew was that she too is a writer. She contacted me on my FaceBook author page, asking me how I went from a pantser to a plotter. I invited her to lunch to discuss it, because the idea of typing up nine months of experience was much too daunting. People have written books about less.

I sat down and talked to her, at a pho restaurant not far from my work. We caught up a little bit, talked about people we know in common, established some basic communication. Naturally the conversation drifted into waters that bled into ink. She talked to me about her work in first person, the dual genres of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, how she poured herself into her story. I told her about how I’d done similar things, and how I’d come out displeased with my first two works. How I knew I could do better, but trying to frame an entire novel in my head was simply too much for me to manage.

The hour went by *much* too fast, and I realized that for the first time, I’d really felt allowed to speak about my craft. I had an audience who was genuinely interested in me, in the workings of what I did. I’ve joined writer’s groups around the area before, it’s not as though I haven’t tried. However, despite the three groups I joined and rapidly backed out of, I couldn’t find a group who genuinely cared about my work. They were each people who cared about their own work, and looked forward to getting their feedback, and were willing to give feedback if it meant getting what they wanted. I made no connections, and generally left feeling deeply disappointed in the communities I’d found. One was certainly came close to what I needed, but even then, I was a magpie amidst starlings.

Just before this, I had gone to lunch with two close friends of mine that I’ve known for many years. We all bemoaned our writing group experiences, when Allie hit upon the idea that we should join forces and start our own group. It’s small, and private, and exclusive as hell. It’s so new we haven’t even had a chance to talk the craft yet, despite the fact that we’ve all been writers since our early years.

It’s genuinely wonderful to find like-minded spirits to discuss the craft with. I felt like such a lone, lonely loner for such a long time. I finally feel like I’m part of a collaboration, that I fit in and can share my geek and not have to apologize for being socially awkward because I care about things like outlines and plotting.

It’s nice to come home.