I am getting to know the writing sub-culture slowly. Slow is what I do. It is a good thing to ease into this people group. Now, writing critique group, don’t go and think I am pointing at you, although I might be. It is just that the more I read on the craft of writing the more I see that most writers could use some therapy, Gerald the Writer notwithstanding. Oh, I needed therapy before, but now I might need to double up. From two different writer friends and a book I was told that writing can be therapeutic. Not therapy. Therapeutic.
I am thinking about building a cabin in the back field as a therapeutic retreat. In it will be a desk, bookshelves, a wood stove, spent pens hanging on the wall, and a sculpture made of crumpled paper. One corner will have a chase lounge and next to it a high back leather chair. Once a week…o.k. several times a week I will lay on the lounge and my muse will sit and make saddle rubbing sounds as he crosses his legs. He will pack his pipe and light it over and again. I will recline and whine about self doubt and wonder if I have anything to say. My droning will be interrupted with an occasional mmhmm and legs switching up and a short throat clearing and a quiet “Go on.”
“So, tell me more about your critique group meeting last night.”
“Well, we began the meeting by going around the table and revealing our favorite kind of ice cream. Mine is spumoni. Then someone read the minutes from the last meeting and we critiqued the piece entitled “Minutes” which took twenty minutes. A couple of people brought a copy of their published books and it got a little awkward with the Freudian slips because of underlying book envy.
“Ah, Freud, I’ve heard of him.” A leather sound emitted while he straightened in the chair.
“Right, anyway things were said like:
My manuscript is bound up. (Which means their writing is currently constipated.)
I just talked with my publisher. (Meaning they left several voices mails.)
My editor is dragging his feet. (They owe their editor money.)
My writing is gaining momentum. (They have taken several laps around the writer’s block.”
“Okay Jerry, I get the picture. Then what happened?”
“Well, a lot happened, but I will skip the rest of the incidentals and get to my piece and my critique and my opinion of it.”
“Did I sense a note of sarcasm?”
“This is therapy, right?!”
“I am the therapee, correct?”
“Indeed you are and it got me thinking…”
“Really, Mr. Muse, got you thinking, eh? I thought you were supposed to get me thinking?”
“I believe we have been down this road before…”
“Oh, would you like a change of scenery, eh? We can turn left at Albuquerque if you wish!”
“No! You listen Mr. Moose, I mean Muse. I don’t pay you to rearrange MY priorities…”
“You don’t pay me anyt…”
“Don’t even go there. You know I am just a poor writer. Where is the love?”
“I…” All I could think of at the moment was Tina Turner slamming one leg down as she sang ‘What’s love got to do with it’. He sat patiently and relit his bowl of tobacco. One eyebrow raised and the opposite side of his mouth curled a tad.
“You don’t know what they said about my piece. Sure they liked it but some of my favorite lines they suggested that I tweak them. One person didn’t know who Captain Kirk was and another ‘critiquer’ said that cartoon character expressions from the sixties and seventies most readers wouldn’t ‘get’. Zoinks! Who wouldn’t know where that word came from? Sometimes I feel like I am the only one with a clue. These writer types are ‘special’.
“And you are one of them, aren’t you?”