Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Morning, Beach Towels and Metaphors Gone Awry



I have spent the past hour or so printing pages, making minor edits, contemplating the rules of the past perfect tense.  This is a good morning for me.  It's not perfect.  I didn't bother to make tea, my hair's gone funky with the bed-head and I'm also doing laundry (such a drag).  But it's a good day, and so much to look forward to.  

This will be the first meeting of the month for the Sci Fi Group.  Family obligations kept me from the last meeting in May and I'm curious what novel developments I have missed.  I am looking forward to those first few moments we spend re-introducing ourselves to each other.  Oh, it's not so much names and occupations, but personalities, sharing tid-bits of an intervening history to ground ourselves in who we are and how we relate one to the other.  

We will settle ourselves with our water, our tea, our snacks.  We will make the casual inquiries.

And then, we will begin.

I love critique group.  I enjoy the social aspects but I love the work.  I love that moment when we go around the table to determine which of us has brought work for review.  I love the way each person pulls out their pages.  Some of them, like me, keep the pages close, tucked away in a notebook and our hands pressing down.  One of our membership keeps his pages in a satchel, plucks the pages with cool aplomb from its depths at the start of group, setting them unabashed in front of himself as he waits for the session to begin.  Another keeps her work print-side down against the table cloth and, to any outside observer, it might seem she has brought nothing.  We know better.

We don't work like the other WOK groups.  We bring our offerings, those polished pieces we've spent years grooming side by side with rough-shot inspirations still hot from the printers and riddled with the imperfections we wish we could eradicate entire, to be put on display.  I figure it is something like a nudist beach or what I imagine of a nudist beach.  We have arrived in our swimsuits and our cover-ups clutching at our towels, each of us thinking about our embarrassing wobbles or unsightly moles, each unwilling to be the first to bare all.

But it happens.  One towel hits the beach, a set of swim-trunks, a bikini top.  

And the real work begins.  We forget about our wobbles and our moles, interested instead in the shared humanity, the fact that we are all wobbly with unsightly moles and birthmarks and the odd sprouting of hair.
 
And we work.  Pages are passed, the words are read, mis-read, stuttered and stalled.  We learn where our narration falters, struggles, fails.  We learn what works, which passages provoke an emotional response, which characters sympathy.  We laugh, we discuss, we debate.  And, at the end of the day, we leave that metaphorical beach reluctantly, shrug back into our shirts and wrap our towels around ourselves only because we know we must.  We cannot stay at the beach forever.

But wouldn't it be nice? 

8 comments:

  1. Oh, Anna! I love this piece -- the analogy and the feeling of urgency to participate in the critique group. Sounds like it's working for your and your fellow critique group members; all good.
    xoA

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    1. Thanks Annis! Your comments are always so encouraging! Thank you!

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  2. The beach for me is a refreshing, relaxing experience, as is the sharing of ideas and creativity with like minded people.

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    1. Definitely...I must confess I've had beach on the brain for a while now. I need to get out of here and just go. Lol!

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  3. I feel like I'm back there again. The SF group has always had a lot of personality and in my mind I can still hear the laughter and sense the atmosphere you describe. well told, Anna, well told. TR

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    1. Thank you, Terry! I must admit the SF group tends to be one of the highlights of any given week where we have a meeting. :-)

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  4. But if you stay at the beach too long, don't you get burned??? Nudist beaches are pretty much like you imagine, but the inhibitions drop off quickly as the sense of a "new normal" sets in. Then there was the time we hit the beach on the French Riviera on our honeymoon. Not a nude beach, just a regular family beach. Which meant that my bride quickly ascertained that she was the only woman with a top on. She doffed the top and instantly felt less noticeable. Unfortunately, the sunscreen was applied before her top was removed... need I say more? Ouch.

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    1. Yes, ouch! That would be me...never actually been to a real nudist beach but I am the person who invariably forgets to coat at least one body part in sunscreen...I cannot imagine the pain of being burned in the place you describe. Ouch, ouch and ouch again! Thanks for sharing! :-)

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