A retired minister looks at the world around him from a different perspective -- the back pew. From this viewpoint his restless mind is free to wander out the door to topics secular as well as religious.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Every other Wednesday morning I meet with three or four friends at our local Barnes and Noble store, where we sit in comfortable chairs facing each other across a large square coffee table, in a nook surrounded by cook books on three sides and racks of self-help books stretching out beyond us on the fourth side. We are an informal, unorganized and sometimes downright disorganized critique group, members also of the larger Baldwin Writers Group that meets one Saturday each month.
Though we enjoy each others’ company, the common interest that brings us together is that we are writers. We meet to critique and encourage each other in our writing.
We are a mixed bunch. Betty writes blank verse and reads two or three new poems each time we meet. Her quest is usually to find just the right word or phrase in a line or two she has not yet perfected to her satisfaction.
The rest of us write prose fiction, and we are seeking help with characterization, plot and writing style. Apart from our common interest, we share few similarities.
Nolan is leading us a chapter at a time through a fantasy novel whose major characters are members of a modern polygamy cult.
Phil’s novel takes us back to the antics of a 1940’s small-town baseball team and the tensions of a wife who doesn’t want her husband to play ball on Sundays.
I am struggling through an early draft of The Tattoo, a contemporary novel set in a Mobile megachurch.
Reilly, the fifth member of this group, has been absent of late, struggling with health issues. We miss him, for he is our severest critic. A writer mostly of short stories, always ending in an unexpected twist, Reilly also sometimes ventures a poem, and he is the only one among us who has a published novel for sale across the room on B&N’s fiction shelves.
Barnes and Noble doesn’t profit much from the four to six hours a month we spend in their comfortable corner. One of us may occasionally buy a book, but we do our more profitable business at their coffee counter.