Writing Groups

Who is your audience? Does having an audience in mind matter? That’s been a key revelation recently.

I asked the professor, who do you write for?

Cause that’s my biggest hurdle. I can write for days… and I do. I compulsively journal my thoughts, but for the life of me, writing a “story” or a book seems to be this monumental feat. And it’s all cause there’s no real or obvious audience that I feel compelled to tell a story to. Ya know?

Her response, “to my children, and their children”: to pass on a legacy.

And that makes sense. Her writing reflects it.

But I was reading about these literary writing groups, and when you have a respected peer group as an audience, it sharpens you.

It’s so much easier to journal because it’s just my internal mania that doesn’t need to make sense to anyone but me…. but when I write a story, it’s like for an audience, and that’s been my hang up.

Who am I writing for?

If I’m writing for myself, then journaling is just fuckin fine, and I need to get over writing a god damn book.

But, if I have a story to tell, or truths to communicate, then who am I telling that story to? Who is my audience?

My children? My parents? My peers? High brow or low brow? Why is my story worth telling? Why is it worth listening to? Etc.

In April I started my little novel story and for the first time, I wrote to an audience. It was the kids I don’t have ha. Same thing my professor said. Future generations. And it really helped he get my story out.

But I want my peers to be apart of the process, to challenge me, and I want to learn from them— which is why I enrolled in this creative writing class, and why I want us to join together as devotees to the craft of literature.

Some notable writing groups:

The Fugitives (Robert Penn Warren)
The Agrarians
The Junto (Est. 1727)
The Dill Pickle Club (Est. 1917)
Los Contemporáneos (Est. 1920)
The South Side Writers’ Group (Est. 1930)
The February House (Est. 1940)
The Socrates School (Plato)
The Bloomsbury Group
The Dymock Poets
The Algonquin Roundtable
The Inklings (The Coalbiters: Tolkien, CS Lewis)
Stratford-on-Odeon
The Factory (Warhol)
El Floridita (Hemingway)

The Socrates School

The Socrates School was a group of thinkers around 400 BC including Socrates and his students Plato and Xenophon who asked big questions about life and made important contributions to Western philosophy and ethics. Socrates dedicated his life to teaching. Read More

The Bloomsbury Group

The Bloomsbury Group included Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and John Maynard Keynes. They were a group of writers, artists and intellectuals who lived or worked near Bloomsbury, London and met informally to share and discuss ideas.

The Dymock Poets

The Dymock Poets were a group of poets including Robert Frost and Rupert Brooke who lived in the English village of Dymock. These poets met in the early 1900’s and even published their own quarterly called ‘New Numbers’.

The Algonquin Roundtable

The Algonquin Roundtable was a group of New York City playwrights, actors, critics and comedians including Harpo Marx, George Kaufman and Dorothy Parker who met for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 to 1929.

The Inklings

The Inklings were a literary group in England that especially encouraged fantasy writing. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were notable members. I loved these two as a child and still do.

Stratford-on-Odeon

Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald were among the famous writers who comprised Stratford-on-Odeon. The group was so named after the bookshop they frequented called Shakespeare and Company and which James Joyce coined “Stratford-on-Odeon”. Their meeting place was destroyed during World War II.

The Factory

The Factory was so named for Andy Warhol’s studio space in New York City. It was a meeting place of artists, writers and musicians, including Truman Capote, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali. It became famous for its raucous parties.

El Floridita

El Floridita was a bar outside Havana so often frequented by Ernest Hemingway in his post-Paris life that the owners gave him his own stool. Reportedly, the stool remains empty in his honor to this day. Check out this article to learn more about some of the famed literary bars.

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