by PJ Colando
Writers’ Groups Abound, How to Choose?
This is another personal account of sessions, venues, and opportunities that have molded me into Writer during the last half-dozen years, my slow, purposeful march to an MFA sans college classes or fees. The hurrah-for-you-and-me bonus of living in a population-saturated area is a plethora of writer-and-reader resources, the region’s generosity to me-and-thee.
Populous Orange County, CA has many library branches and libraries remain a mainstay because writers benefit from being readers. (And libraries, unlike Starbucks as a writing space, are free.) But we also have a lot of writers’ groups. Check out Meet-Up—I double dare you—then try to call me wrong.
Groups galore. But what holds you and keeps you? What draws you into a group, to cleave and not cut-and-run… To remain and then to return and, perhaps, loosen your stays and cut loose? What causes you to schedule a writer group’s meetings first, not last, on your perpetual ‘to do’ list?
Is it time, place, and atmosphere? Is it that the price is right, the trade of your time for knowledge gained is worth every second away from the demands ever-present in adult daily life: the groceries, the kids, the dog, the spouse who doesn’t share your writing addiction, er, avocation?
Southern California Writers Association
Consider the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA), a growing group of writers of all genres: published, aspiring, and non. The meetings convene from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm on the third Saturday of every month. A variety of speakers are featured presenter at the group’s meetings, all polished, many with a movie industry bent.
Though the term ‘split session’ has Congressional connotations—not a great credit in these contentious times—the term aptly and ably applies to the SCWA meeting paradigm, a format that optimally feeds the mind, body, and soul. That is, the meeting opens with convivial time, networking and conversational carousing over a cup of complimentary tea, soda, or water, or reading a thick packet of pertinent and timely publishing world information provided by one of the members for all. One could also buy/trade books with another author, appreciate and support one another, to seek a review. The group is saturated with splendid generosity. Come to find out!
SCWA annual dues are $30.00 and the meetings, which include the packet, prizes, lunch at $25.00, and a speaker of excellence, are split session. That is, the speaker’s meaty presentation is split in half by a sumptuous buffet lunch. The format allows personal and professional sharing, as well is packing the pre-lunch information into one’s memory while packing down food.
The private banquet room is on the backside of the Claim Jumper restaurant, Fountain Valley 405 freeway close, so your meeting arrival smacks of speak-easy “Joe sent me”, though none of the members are old enough to have experienced the Temperance Movement first hand.
Members and attendees range in age from teenage to Boomer age, but there are no dinosaurs.
Regular attendance is 50-60 members and all seats allow access and proximity to the speaker and a large front-of-the-room screen, as the presentations are often slides. The intimacy of a supper club prevails. The round table seating suggests the famed Algonquin Round Table.
If Dorothy Parker were alive, this would be her West Coast scene. Since she’s not alive, you’ve got wise-cracking yours truly, PJC.
PJ Colando writes women’s fiction with preposterous plots and lively characters swirled amidst issues of social angst: entitlement, fracking, and medical marijuana use, though not piss-and-vinegar politics. She formerly called writing her elegant hobby—a premise that must be abandoned because she earned a fiction award at the recent Southern California Writers Conference. Join her on her Boomer humor blog on her author site: http://www.pjcolando.com
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