Thursday, February 24, 2005

New Writer's Group

Monday, I got an e-mail from a woman a know, Lila, who informed me of a writer's group that was starting up again. She had gotten involved in it months ago at the same time I was trying to start my own group up. Mine petered out, which was a disappointment, but I felt like I was the energy behind the whole thing. It was frusrating. I still think of Sue, the only one who really wrote, but I don't even think her stuff was fresh - and she had no plan.

So I went to this group last night. It was at a Iranian coffee shop/cultural center. It's a small little place in the Jordaan. They have coffee and tea and a fairly empty space. They host readings, poetry workshops and storytelling evenings in Dutch. I can't imagine how they make enough money to pay the rent.

The first woman to show up was Cindy, who I had met at a Bi-nationals potluck months ago. Fred had chatted with Cindy's girlfriend for a while and had found her interesting. My memory of Cindy was sketchy. She stayed in the background, not offering a hand to shake, not smiling, not talking. I wonder how people like that get along in the world. Isn't part of life about contact? We also saw them another time, out and about. Again, the girlfriend was the friendly one. Cindy seemed bothered by human interaction.

So when Cindy showed up last night, I thought, "Wow. She's in the group too." Then, when I introduced myself, she said she was Cindy (I had not remembered her name) and I said, "Oh. THE Cindy." My contact with the "leader" had been with Cindy. She asked, "Where do I know you from?" I told her. She was actually very nice throughout the evening.

When I told him the story, F said, "That's what I hate about people like that. She'd seen you twice. She'd actually met you, but couldn't be bothered to remember."

He's right. It's a horrible way to be. Some people don't seem to have any understanding of how they look and how they present themself to the world. Are you scowling? Are you smiling? It makes a difference. Some people are shy? Some people need to get over their bad selves.

There were nine people. Cindy, Shiela - a youngish au pair from the west coast, Brandi - who I think I've met or seen before also American, Scottish man, Dutch woman, Susan - South African who read, Lila and me. There were 16 on the list. At least it's organized. I am scheduled to read on April 18 or so. We did a little writing excercise and read them. (Start a story with the line, "Why didn't you call me?") Then Susan read.

Hearing it was okay, but I doubt I could read it. That little South African lilt helped a lot. It was a little precious and then there was an abrupt, dramatic ending. Someone asked her if she was planning on continuing it to a book. "No! Too many people would be hurt! It's the perfect story, but the details are too specific and my family would be devistated!" Maybe I'll use that line. I was just so rolling my eyes.

The problem is that I don't know how honest we could be. And people don't really jump in with the comments. I was the first one to say something. I wanted to say "The voice is really precious," "It's sophisticated language for a little girl" and something about a lead up to the dramatic ending, but I don't know her and I didn't feel comfortable. We'll see. I want honest. She should know, right? We'll see how it progresses.

No comments: