Sunday, November 28, 2010

Space...and Room to Grow

I climbed the stairs to the second floor, hearing the sounds of the exercise class instructor calling cues and the music of the dance class pulsing upwards. The Writers Group is meeting on the third floor said the Community House member. I tramped up the now narrower stairs to the third floor to find myself in the dark. Fumbling around I found the light switch and flipped it on and navigated into the only room that looked like it would accommodate the writing group. A fairly stark room - with two large lunch tables and about ten chairs - and the faint sounds of the first floor activities in the background.

It was different from the large and spacious room at the local library, which they had been generous to let us use, and which had been a good place to meet for over ten years, but now their schedule and ours just didn't match.

When the group arrived and we started our scheduled critiques of several members' work - one chapter of a MG novel and a PB manuscript - we seemed to melt into our space comfortably. No other groups were on our high third floor but the sounds of activities from the lower floors in the distance provided comfort and ambient background noise for our discussions. Once we're underway of course, we really don't hear anything else.

We are concentrating on the work and seeing the plot and characters we have been dealing with in prior versions and chapters come more fully to life. Now that we actually know the characters in these two respective manuscripts we speak of them as if they are real and living people, who we think would act, think and speak in a specific way. No, Sam would probably say this....Stella might behave like this instead....

By the end of the first evening, we were very comfortable in our attic meeting room, and I think that our literary characters were too. The space filled with thoughtful consideration - and it seems that the plainer the space the more room there is for growth and for thought to expand.

Certainly the physical place shouldn't matter and a writer could compose with just a pen and paper or keyboard, but in practical terms, a place with room to grow is a positive.

Our old space, comfortable and attractive and sometimes adorned with a local art exhibit, saw a number of books and magazine articles published and awards received, and I am hopeful that the new space will help frame the support for more good work.

Does the space where you write or group critique help mold your work or add to the atmosphere and is it helpful and conducive to the development of your work? I think our new critique meeting room is an ideal space for ideas to grow, thoughts to be exchanged and manuscripts honed into future books.


  1. Yes, I like this new meeting room, it has bright lighting and good vibes because a group of poets meets there, too!

    The biggest change for us, however, is now we're meeting at night. We hope this will make it easier for a couple of our members and maybe we'll attract some new writers!

  2. Eileen - Sorry to contact you like this, but my researcher couldn't find any better contact info for you. I am with Educational Testing Service and would like to discuss the possibility of obtaining from you reprint rights for "Canyon". Thanks!

    Will McClure (

  3. Eileen - It really doesn't matter where one meets or works, but having a nice place always helps.

  4. For me, I think the time of the meeting would impact me more than the physical meeting space. That said, I can't wait to try out my nocturnal critiquing skills. I look forward to seeing you all soon at the Madison Community House. It sounds like a funky joint.

  5. Gale - Our new space does have good vibes and perhaps some NJ writers looking for a professional critique group will join us.

    Will - Thanks so much for the interst in CANYON, the story in poetic prose of the surging power of nature creating canyons. My email address is Many thanks.

    Meg - You're right - it doesn't really matter where you are but a conducive spot helps.

    Janice - The critiquing sessions in the evening are insightful -and very skillful

  6. The new meeting room is lovely and so is the new time. Thanks Paper Waiters for helping to make it so much easier for me to attend our wonderful meetings!!! I hope the new time is convenient for some new writers as well!

    P.S. Daniel loved the new space too! I couldn't stop revising for days and days after our meeting!

  7. I like our new space, too. As for writing space, I love working in my cozy office, but I can work anywhere, on a laptop, on my Alpha Smart, or in longhand. But I do revisions best in my office, on my desktop, with no interruptions.

  8. Eileen,

    From another group's perspective--members were harder to keep than the space. Only two of us remained and we decided to give up the library location and meet at our homes. I have also joined an online group and we meet in cyberspace. I've found it to be a wonderful location that fits everyone's schedule. I'm so thankful for its dedicated members! "There's no place like home." Wherever it is.

  9. I think place is important. I don't know if it's Feng Shui or what, but there are some spots where I feel creative and other places I don't. Interesting idea.

  10. Brianna - Glad that Daniel liked the new space

    Judy - That's what's great about our new space - we're pretty much free of interruptions

    Linda - Your online group sounds like a good home

    MG - Thanks- there are some spots that feel more creative than others.