Writers groups give life, hope

May 18, 2008

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