Broussard on Writing Groups
Perhaps nothing so clearly underlines the uselessness and irrationality of public libraries than the decision to throw T’Gracie and Joe out of one of them some years ago, for no reason other than Joe’s somewhat negative comments concerning the utter banality of writing groups.
True, Joe was addressing a writing group at the time, and that fact perhaps should have weighed more heavily in his choice of words. Still…
T’Gracie and Joe got their revenge, of course, a year or so later, when Bay St. Lucy’s most prolific obscene/violent novelist Tom Broussard (Remembering Dismemberment) stalks out of a writers’ group, asking the attendees the simple question, “Why aren’t you all home writing?” before making his exit.
(NOTICE TO BLOG READERS: THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ARE JOE’S ALONE. T’GRACIE WANTS NO PART OF THEM)
All right then. There are, as far as I can see, only two reasons that writers’ groups exist. The first is the theory that budding young writers need encouragement. They need for other people, people whom they know and like to tell them “Keep at it! It may seem discouraging now, but ultimately you will be successful!”
This is ridiculous.
The characters writers make up are more real to them than living people they actually know. This is a kind of insanity (unless the writer is successful, at which point it is called creativity). True writers WILL WRITE. They cannot be stopped. People who love alcohol will drink, and people who love sex—well, leave that for now.
If you need a close circle of friends to keep encouraging you, then you should go into another line of work.
The other reason for writers’ groups is ‘feedback.’
Most people in the group are going to say nice things about your work, simply because they are nice people and don’t want to hurt your feelings.
To hell with them.
Some others will be honest and tell you, “Dr. Deedlebum is a ridiculous character and needs eliminating.”
So you take Dr. Deedlebum out of all fourteen chapters in which he appears except for Chapter Five.
Then you go to another writing group, when another equally honest and well-meaning person tells you, “We need more of this Deedlebum character! Maybe he could have a romance with Mrs. Flutesnoot!”
This way madness lies.
Well, anyway, these are Tom’s and Joe’s thoughts on the matter.
Now let’s see what the rest of the group thinks!