A day of fiction

Yesterday I went down to join a group of writers at the Malibu–I had no idea what I was getting into. The group has apparently been meeting for some seventeen years, every Wednesday at the same restaurant. It was a lively bunch of writers, none of whom I had met before. I went because Keith R.A. DeCandido invited me down so I could sign the Dr. Who: Destination Prague bookplates–we’re both in the anthology. I had a blast and am planning to return next week.

That evening, I went down to the Fantastic Fiction reading at the KGB, which featured Paul Park and Esther Friesner. I’ve been trying to attend one of these readings for years. It seems like everytime I come to NYC for a gig, a KGB reading falls somewhere in the trip, but I’ve always had a conflict. One time–one–I managed to join them for dinner afterwards. It was great to be able to do the whole thing this time.

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14 Responses

  1. Livia Llewellyn

    I think that’s fantastic – I’ve been trying for years to find a group of writers in the NYC area to socialize and/or workshop with, and I’ve never had any luck. (Then again, if I was a writer of your stature and caliber, I probably wouldn’t have problems getting people to take me seriously. 🙂 Maybe in another ten years…)

  2. Mary Robinette Kowal

    if I was a writer of your stature and caliber, I probably wouldn’t have problems getting people to take me seriously

    ::cough::

    ::choke::

    Um…Livia? I’ve read your stuff and you are a shit-hot writer. Come hang out with me.

  3. Livia Llewellyn

    Well, in NYC I’ll probably always be more shit than shit-hot. Writers groups tend to guard their flanks quite closely – it’s hard to get people to trust that I’m not some disruptive wannabe. But thanks for the compliment!

  4. Rose Fox

    I only recently heard about the Malibu group (and of course it was in the context of starting another regular Wednesday lunch thing, so even if I were invited I probably wouldn’t be able to go very often). Who else did you meet?

  5. Mary Robinette Kowal

    Er… this is where my trouble with names becomes a problem. Glenn, Paul Kupperberg… um. I’ll take notes next time. I only know Paul’s last name because he’s also in the Dr. Who anthology, so I could look it up. sigh.

  6. Eugene

    Writers groups tend to guard their flanks quite closely
    Yikes. I hope we don’t come across that way, Livia. We would love to hang out with you! And I don’t know what you’re talking about, because you’re a terrific writer. I haven’t really had much of a chance to chat at the various events where I’ve spotted you, but let us know the next time you’ll be around the city.

    Mary, Carrie goes to Malibu fairly often (you met her at Readercon), and I pop in from time to time, but I usually can’t take a long enough lunch break to make it, given the distance from my job. It’s a fun crowd though. Alan something is a huge Who fan too.

    And I’m looking forward to the anthology too!

  7. Mary Robinette Kowal

    I have to say that I’ve found writers by-and-large to be a really open, welcoming bunch. That said, to this point, because of traveling, I’ve had very little contact with writers except online. I’m auditioning right now for the group that Eugene is in and I can see why a live group might be protective. It’s a lot more personal than an online group. I can see the urge to be very protective, because being present at a critique is inherently more vulnerable than receiving a critique online.

    But I do know what you mean about feeling like a disruptive wannabe, there is this thing of “Where do your stories appear,” which is like a territory marking that I find very amusing. Actors do the same thing, of course, and probably every profession does. I can see people’s attitude to me shift when I trot out Cicada and Cosmos, like suddenly I’m a “real” writer. I can’t blame them. I do the same thing, even if I don’t want to–heck, I do the same thing with myself. I have more confidence in my writing after making those sales, even though the stories are older than stories that are getting rejected now. Funny how that works.

  8. Livia Llewellyn

    What Mary said, before I could get back online and say it. I was in theatre for twenty years before turning to writing, and there were many times when a wonderful cast/production turned sour because one person became disruptive or started working with their own ego and agenda in mind. It’s the same with a RL writing group, and therefore it’s no surprise to me that groups tend to screen and admit new members with a large amount of caution. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a group that let just anyone in at the drop of a dime!

    And I think that, also like in theatre, there are simply too many people wanting to be part of the process but too few spaces to accommodate them. A writing group of a hundred people is ridiculous – even ten can be unwieldy, as much for meeting space logistics as for interpersonal dynamics. So even if a group wanted me to join, I might not be able to because there were simply no spaces available. Again, understandable.

    So what I’m saying is that my comments above weren’t meant to sound like I think writing groups are capriciously snobbish – I understand and encourage the reasons why they remain closed off to the general public and even to other writers. It takes a long time to learn to trust other people with work in progress, and if that trust is breached, it makes it all that more difficult to keep the group together. I’m 100% supportive of that. I have a few select people online that I send drafts to for comments, and that’s good enough. Writing is a lonely process, and I’m used to being alone. It’s all cool.

  9. -e-

    Another moment when worlds, (or at leaqst time frames) collide… someplace in our collection of tapes, is one of Keith interviewing David for his cable tv show, ca. 1991… suffice it to say that David, at least, looks considerably younger. We have not seen Keith or Marina in years- please give them our regards!