Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Rochester Writers Group

My Writers’ Group

Rochester Writers' Group

I was determined to make it to the Rochester writers’ group meeting last night and much to my surprise, I did it! It had been years since I was able to attend, not counting the Christmas potluck parties held every year Mary’s house. Mary is the leader of the group.

So how did I make it there? I improvised. I called my uncle’s aunt, picked her up and had her watch the kids at the Thomas and Friends train table at the back of the bookstore – my son’s favorite place – while I sat with the adults, some whom I’d known for many years, some of whom I just met.

I listened to a meaningful poem, a hip novel excerpt, a drastically improved and revised first chapter of another novel, a beautiful memory of a romance, one soldier’s experience in the army, and a man’s heartfelt story about caring for his dying father – though I must admit the parts in the caretaker’s story about the feces were a bit much, especially when enjoying a hot cup of hazelnut macchiato, a new drink I was excited to try at Barnes & Noble.

I received delightful feedback on the material I read – even clapping! It was like the olden days, when I was in doubt about some of the scenes in my chapter and once I read them to this group, I knew what worked, what didn’t, and I walked away feeling a sense of peace and accomplishment.

The biggest difference between then and now is that yesterday, in the midst of the meeting, I began to hear my son’s voice creeping up behind me. I turned around and there were my kids with my uncle’s wife.

“We’re hungry,” my daughter said.

Rochester Writers’ Group


The day didn’t start off quite well. My daughter and I argued in the morning over her wanting to stuff her snowsuit in her backpack to take to school. There was no room left for her shoes, which she would slip on after she took off her boots in class. I ended up squeezing everything in, yet we still managed to be upset at each other. So before I took my son to nursery, I dropped off a card at her school to tell her how much her dad and I love her.

I spent a few hours at Panera Bread working on my book before I picked up the kids from school, then went home and prepared dinner. I was hoping I would have a chance to stop at Barnes & Noble for the writers’ group meeting that is held on the second Thursday of every month at 7:30pm. Although I joined this group over fifteen years ago, I have not attended in a very long time. I have however made it to the Christmas potluck almost every year. The potluck is always at Marie Gates’ house. She has been leading the group for the last 26 years.

It is in this group that I first dared read my work to an audience. There must have been at least ten people when I read the rough draft of Chapter One of my first novel, The Feminine Art. I was so nervous that I had to stare at the carpet as I awaited my turn so that I would not lose my courage. The experience was powerful. The listeners gave me so much constructive criticism that I became a regular attendee.

The Rochester Writers’ Group started out at the Rochester Hills Library and in the process of rebuilding a new library, the meetings were held in different members’ homes, and then they finally settled at Barnes & Noble. It was led by a couple who later decided they wanted to travel and so handed the job over to Marie Gates. When I met her, Marie was working on her first book, Shadows on My Mind. She has since published a second, Are We Our Past? Marie Gates managed to be a wife and mother while earning an M.A. in psychology. For several years she taught in colleges and universities and she has spent the past thirty years exploring reincarnation.

Last Christmas when I went to her house, I enjoyed drinking wine, tasting good food and talking to “intellectuals.” I learned from others’ personal experiences things about China, Poland and Russia. Over tea, I expressed my ideas about starting this blog, received the usual support and honesty that I’ve gotten from this community over the past 15 years, and returned home thankful that I have friends who understand my career that live just around the corner.