I was told once that finding a good writing critique group is not always easy. I heard horror stories of groups in which members seem more interested in tearing each other down and I’ve watched a friend suffer through a group that…well, made me cringe.
I lucked out. Nearly eleven years ago, I walked out of the room in which I taught music lessons every day to see a notice in a glass case: NIGHT WRITERS, WEDNESDAYS, 6:30 PM, ROOM 109. It gave a name and number. I called, never got a response, and finally one day, when I finished early, decided, This is ridiculous. They’re meeting right down the hall. I can at least go say hello.
I did. They welcomed me, invited me to read first, and gave great feedback. I have never felt so comfortable with a group of people, or so welcomed. Judy, Ross, Lyn, and Genny, had been meeting weekly for about twenty years when I joined. (The story of Maureen LaJoy and the Center for Developing Writers, which was the genesis of Night Writers, will be told elsewhere.)
Janet, Judd, Stephanie, and Sue had histories of varying lengths with the group, some of them quite long, by the time I joined in September of 2006. Jack walked in one night in early 2007, having recently moved to the area, and was an integral part of our group for 8 years, including being a major part of the founding of Gabriel’s Horn Publishing.
For about a year, Inna from the Urkraine, joined us. Inna had once worked with the Russian military. She informed us we would have a Christmas party, and we would have fun! When a member of the Russian military tells you to have fun, you do as you are told! And so began our annual Christmas and pool parties. Through those years, we were also hosting writing classes, group book signing and speaking events, and writers’ socials. We were marching in parades and attending events with the Maple Grove Arts Center, and going to major book events.
We joked that we were a ten person marriage–and indeed, Night Writers has lasted more than many marriages, being somewhere around 30 years now, with our four original members–although in addition to our long-lasting group of ten (Judy, Judd, Jack, Genny, Janet, Laura, Lyn, Stephanie, Sue, and Ross), we have also had many members come and go, whom we fondly remember and who sometimes still attend events (Larry, Linda, Linda, Kim, Joanie, Meredythe…..) and today we also have Lisa and Catherine.
Apart from group parties, many of us have frequently gotten together as friends–running errands together, meeting in pairs to discuss book issues, meeting in groups or pairs to go out for dinner, drinks, or lunch. Many of us attend Lyn’s birthday parties each July. Night Writers have, as a group, attended my students’ music recitals, writing classes, and children’s graduation parties. in late September, our meetings include a celebration for mine and Jack’s nearly-shared birthday. Judd and I have played music together for many events and Jack and I have attended some events together, in building Gabriel’s Horn, and more.
Tonight, we celebrated Judd’s birthday, as we have for several years now.
I have a confession. It wasn’t that wild of a party. We deliberately tipped over the bottles. Really, does this surprise anyone!? We were discussing how to murder medieval power mavens and Ross’s sex scene and the question of Meister’s mad attack on the saplings. We didn’t have time for a wild party! We totally faked it, tipping over bottles. But, hey, they were water bottles, and PowerAde bottles. Plus…cupcakes. Yep, wild party!
Seriously…happy birthday, Judd, a vital, important part of Night Writers for well over a decade. How the time has flown! And thank you to Night Writers for being such a great group of writers, people, and friends. We have so many beautiful, wonderful memories together!