Writers groups give life, hope

I’ve been reading, occasionally, a book called The Fiction Class by Susan Breen. I rarely read fiction or novels of any sort, so this is a bit of a break for me. I’ve found it an interesting read, so far.

Arabella is a writing teacher, her mother is in a nursing home. The book flows mostly between Arabella’s writing class, and her visits with her mother. It is interspersed with a mostly blank page which contains the writing assignment she’s given to her class for that week. I think that is a clever idea, and is a neat way to draw in the reader of Breen’s book to become a “participant” in Arabella’s class.

Part of what drew me to the book is that there is a thread throughout of Arabella’s “real” life plus her fiction class. That juxtaposition of fiction and reality was what intrigued me. And the exercises neatly sandwiched in.

In the portion I was reading tonight, one of her students becomes suddenly ill during class. Chaos ensues, and come to find out, the student is ill from chemotherapy. Mimi, the chemo-character, pleads with Arabella: “You’re going to tell me I shouldn’t have come to this class today, but I couldn’t bear to miss it.” “When I’m in this class,” Mimi says, “I don’t feel sick.” “I need to be here with other writers. That’s the only way I can survive this thing.”

And though I don’t face anything at all like Mimi does, I believe in her words with all my being. That’s exactly how I feel about a small writing group I belong to. I would have to be pinned under the wreckage of a semi-truck before I would stay away and miss a meeting of that group. It’s just that important.

I hope any writers out there, especially those who might be “tentative writers” or “wanna-be” writers, or those who long to call themselves writers but somehow feel like they haven’t deserved the “title” – find a group where they can come together for support and encouragement and laughter and tears. You will find both your writing and your life enriched because of it!


The group I write with is guided by a woman who is an affiliate of Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA). I don’t know if all their affiliates lead groups or not, but it would be worth checking their list.

©2008 writingreading

4 Responses to Writers groups give life, hope

  1. compulsivewriter says:

    Was introduced to writing groups as a part of my MA in creative writing. The group came together through the writing and i found some of my closest friends there. also, i tend to have a low self esteem, and the group made me believe that i could write and made me feel strongly about my novel… unfortunately i havent found a group in india, but loved reading this piece… cheers

  2. writingreading says:

    Thanks, compulsivewriter. And I understand about self-doubt. I think almost all writers have that problem. I know I do. Especially when I sit down to write (or avoid) work on my non-fiction book – that I feel so passionate about when engaged in conversation, but will do anything to avoid when it comes time to sit down and do it. It just seems so overwhelming. Easy for me to think “what am I thinking?” I decided it is like Thomas Edison said about inventing: “1 % inspiration, 99% perspiration.” We just gotta keep going, and keep the words flowing, no matter what. Best wishes for finding (or starting!) a group there in India.

  3. papertigerpress says:

    Great post, and I can relate. Wish I could find a writers group to share and work with myself, but living in Japan limits such things. Still your post keeps me looking in the right direction for a solution. For that I give you thanks.

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