Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Failure of the Day: A Season in Hell

The monthly writer's group met at my place last night. They stayed for four hours.

It started off cheerfully enough at 6:30; I was able to find enough herbal tea to suit everyone and we settled in for an evening of discussing very bad writing. But things started to awry when I noticed that everyone else thought the stories submitted this month were not only not bad, but wonderful! Powerful! Explosive! Wrenching! This for a lesbian romance novel with no sex, no plot, and 60 percent of the words dedicated to describing the outfits. Another story was better, but it contained not a single complete sentence. (And if you pushed me up against a wall, I would admit these are exaggerations, but very, very small ones.)

After two hours, I was having a full-on attack of some sort. I was sweating and dizzy and short of breath. Two of the women arrived at my door covered in cat hair to boot, so I was coughing and itchy as well. We we're less than halfway done and the idea that I would have to spend two more hours listening to the incredible minutia of these horrible, horrible stories was more than I could take. One of the women actually noticed that I looked like I was about to keel over and provided me with an out. She asked if I was Ok and I said I wasn't, that I needed to lie down, which by then I really did need to do. I hid in my room for an hour and a half, desperate for them to go away. They didn't.

At 10 PM, I wobbled out into the living room, bad hostess made flesh, and tried to hurry them along. By 10:45, they were finally gone. What the hell was I thinking? In my desire to show off our lovely apartment by hosting the meeting, I neglected to notice that there would be no way to away from them. Dana Gould is right: I do need a man in top hat and tails to leap out of my closet and shout "Mistaaaaaake!" when I say things like "Let's meet at my place next time!"

I think my weekly group is plenty. Even though the feedback from the monthly group is marginally helpful, there's no way I can sit through another meeting like that. God!


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