I have probably mentioned at some point previously that I am in a writing group. If not – well, I’m in a writing group.
The group has been together much longer than most writing groups last. Most such creative collectives implode due to “creative differences” after between 12 and 18 months. We’ve been together for nearly a decade. Technically, some of us have been together longer, but the group under its current name will celebrate its ten-year anniversary in September.
There were six of us who were members of another group first. That group was populated by us, plus Dr. Phil (no relation), Martha, and Becky – the leader. We were content with the other group until, well, Becky went full goose gone-zo crazy one meeting and kicked out one of the six. For asking a question. So the six of us said “uhm…wut?” And we got told that if we asked questions, we were out, too. So we said “okeydoke” and left. We invited Dr. Phil and Martha, but they thought that Becky was the better option (no clue), and stuck with her. That group imploded about a year later.
A guy named Jeff ran our splinter group. We almost immediately added about six more people. Jeff continued to helm the group for about two years until his kids reached that age where they did ALL the things – soccer and robot camp and whatever, so then he decided to step down and hand the reins to someone else. The someone else he chose was me. He bequeathed the group to me.
I did not want it.
See, running a writing group is like being a cat herder, ringmaster, and glorified playground monitor. But not as glamorous.
People worry about weird shit.
And they tell you about it.
In emails. And texts. And occasionally in passive-agressive post-its left on your notebook or purse for you to find a week later when you go to pay the water bill.
But Jeff insisted that I was the perfect candidate for the job. Also he threatened to give it to this other guy – Joe – if I did not take it. That would have been BAD. He did that on purpose. Because Jeff is a nice guy, but also a manipulative weasel. And for the record, Joe is also awesome. But terrifying. Not really warm fuzzy. And he plays the accordion. You see my dilemma.
So I took it.
And the group has been under my…..uhm….direction? Ever since. I don’t do anything except keep the whole thing from going up in flames, though. Truly. All I do is smooth over disputes and make sure we have somewhere to meet and make sure we have people’s work to be read and get us tables at conventions and answer PR questions from newspapers who hear about us and pay any dues to websites and write copy for our pages and….yeah. Okay. So maybe I do stuff.
But I do it because I love these guys. Most of them are family at this point. Even the newest ones who have become regulars. Some are literal family – my cousin (who is more like a brother) is a member. The rest are family because we’ve become so close that I can’t imagine not seeing them as often as I do.
But I think it’s easy to forget how much people mean to you or how much they care by virtue of just seeing them all the time.
But these idiots reminded me the other night.
I had to miss a meeting.
I don’t do that.
I have not missed ONE meeting since 2012 when I stopped teaching adjunct courses. Not one. But I am working on a conference presentation for an event in August, and I needed to do some prep work with a colleague, so I did.
Now, I am a BIT persnickety about where I sit at meetings. I have a chair. I like that chair. It’s MY chair. Well, it’s less the chair than it is the SPOT where the chair sits. Once, more than four years ago, the last time I was gone, Byron sat in my chair. He SHOULD NOT have done that. It’s been forgiven. Mostly. No, truly. I think.
But anyway, that’s in the past. The POINT is, that this time, Maddie asked “Who gets to sit in your chair. I responded, and I quote, “NO ONE SITS IN MY CHAIR.”
I fully anticipated this would generate some silliness.
What I did NOT expect was to be greeted the next morning by a parade of photos depicting a Murder on the Orient Express-esque crime of defilement against that innocent piece of furniture. They even got our regular waitress to pose with the chair. I had no idea some of our members were that limber.
As I laughed (and cringed) my way through the pictures, though, I realized how very much these weirdos meant to me. How lost I would be without them. And how much I needed them to care about me enough to screw with me this diabolically. Thank god for sick, twisted, horrible people who love you enough to fuck with you like my writing peeps do me. But seriously – someone needs to clean that chair….