By the time you finish reading this, there will be no doubt as to whether the group described is the Good, the Bad or the Ugly.
Upon leaving Chicagoland, I found a group near my new home that met at a library twice a month. This group was the polar opposite of my Illinois group which was disorganized but nurturing. The new group was led by a strong, opinionated person. She ruled with an iron fist and led the group like a drill sergeant. I didn’t last long in this group. I didn’t like going home, feeling as if I was a bad writer. I left every meeting thinking, “”What am I doing this for anyway?” There were no “warm fuzzies” in the group and it was the leader’s way or the highway.
At one meeting, I had the nerve to read a story I had written in present tense. Oh, my gosh! The sky was falling. How dare I! “You never, never, ever write in the present tense!” I was told. Really? A week later, I found a novel on the NY Best Seller List that was written entirely in present tense.
After three sessions with this group, I left. Another newbie left me with. She had had some success publishing in magazines and was a wonderful storyteller from Kentucky, but she felt shot down all the time, too. In retrospect, we both wished we had asked how many people in the group had been published. (I have a feeling that my Kentucky friend was the only one in the group of 12-14. I sincerely doubt the leader was published.)
What bothers me is this woman is still out there, gathering disciples who believe her drivel, jumping off cliffs like lemurs.
Pros: This group met regularly at the same location. The group was made up of a core group that always attended the meetings. I suppose most of them liked to write, but may have had their fires extinguished with time or became clones of the leader, following her rules and never ever writing in present tense.
Cons: This group was very non-supportive of varying writing styles, genres and ideas. There was no “give and take” or sharing. The leader was the end-all. Input from others was limited, often mimicking the opinions of the leader.
This group is an example of one person’s ego driving the agenda. Members viewed the leader as the expert and didn’t question her abilities. If you ever encounter a group like this, my advice is to run away!