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Last week in my post about ‘writing groups are sacred’ I mentioned that I’d ask some of my cohorts to share their writing group experiences. At Louisa’s I write with some very talented people, like Max Detrano who on rainy days can be found scribbling with friends at coffee shops in Seattle, WA. www.maxdetrano.com See his insight on our writing group below.
From Max – On Tuesdays and Fridays I go to Louisa’s Café for writing practice. It’s on my schedule… like the gym. And like the gym I sometimes try to skip out. What am I going to write about? I make excuses; but in the end I go.
It’s a diverse group organized by a couple of pros (Bob Ray and Jack Remick) that, between them, have published something like a dozen books. There are poets, playwrights and memoirists; screenplay writers, YA authors, and retired folk who long to tell someone their story. There are mothers and teachers, and bus drivers; recovering Catholics and Mormons and Jews; Vietnam vets, and a fellow who drives “The Duck”.
One thing we all have in common. We come to these sticky tables in a noisy coffee shop to write. When the timer is set and either Bob or Jack shouts: “Today I am writing about…” the conversation stops. Anywhere from twelve to twenty people put their heads down.
Under the pressure of the timer and the wiz of the espresso machine–we write. And sometimes, we get out of our head long enough to write something “true”. Ernest Hemingway said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know… and then go on from there.”
When the timer runs out, a little nervous, a little anxious, in groups of four, we read what we’ve written. More often than not, the reader is as surprised as anyone.
“I had no idea I was going to write that.”
More often than not what they wrote is “true”.
Like the gym, I’m glad I came. Like the gym I promise I’ll be back.
Max was born in Hoboken, NJ before it was chic. He studied writing at Long Island University, Denver University and the University of Washington. He’s been a writer, a bookseller, an independent publishers’ rep, and an art importer.
His words have appeared in Small Press Magazine, Alaska Airlines, The Sun, Northwest Magazine, The Seattle Weekly, and 10,000 Tons of Black Ink among others. Max’s stories have twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. www.maxdetrano.com
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