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  • I sat. Quietly.

    And I listened.

    I heard a lot of bravado, a lot of insecurity, a lot of uncertainty masked as knowledge, and even some desperation masked as happiness.

    I didn't say more than three sentences. There wasn't time. There was so much listening to do and people to watch.

    They were a fascinating bunch of characters, so much so that they didn't seem to realize they were writing fodder themselves, so intent they were on talking about the best way to write dialogue after critiquing someone's children's stories.

    It wasn't that I didn't want to speak. But in general I tend to speak when spoken to, not when spoken at.

    This wouldn't have been so bad if the meeting hadn't been two hours long. It definitely wouldn't have been so bad if the leader of the group hadn't singled me out and told me, 'Angela, you're not saying much.'

    How do you say much when it's your first meeting and you know no one in attendance? How do you say much when you're a screenwriter and everyone else in the room is a fiction writer? How do you say much when you're a Scot in a room full of Southerners? How do you say much when you're a Third Culture Kid in a room full of mono-culturalists?

    I try not to use these differences as excuses for keeping myself at a distance from others. Sometimes, like yesterday, I'm not very successful. But if I had simply been asked who I was, what kind of writing I did and why I was even attending this writing group then I wouldn't have felt so reluctant to talk.

    Unfortunately, everyone else wanted to state their purpose, their projects and their ego for the group to see, and that's just not how I roll.

    I focused instead on listening, on learning from others who think they know so much, when actually they know so little, on having compassion for those who have no clue about how to interact socially by showing interest in anyone but themselves.

    They weren't bad people. They all seemed really nice. But the last straw came when a particular member pointed out that she was really glad the two 'successful' new members to the writing group had come mostly because they had been able to tell her lots of information she had no clue about, all the while no one had even asked me what kind of writing I do.

    I know I sound bitter.
    I know I sound angry.

    Truthfully, I'm just interested in what turns a person off a certain group of people into another, and also in what connects me with others when I have nothing obvious in common with them.

    What connects me to others is the interest others show in the people around them with the question they ask rather than any answer they may otherwise give.

    So, I won't be going back to that writing group. Thankfully I have a couple others to try.

    I will however be writing my next novel about those writing group characters, and that made my expedition into the world of local writing groups totally worth it.

    I wonder what insights my next writing group will reveal...
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