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The five of us were sitting around last night at Teri’s house, with pencils and lined yellow tablets, playing with the infamous “writing prompt” in its various disguises. We worked with some of the classics and made up a few of our own that elicited groans from ladies who had never dreamed of putting down words about such subjects. It was harder than it sounds, because we set a timed-writing limit of five minutes for each one and actually tried to come up with a fairly complete story in that time. I think we surprised ourselves at the variety and quality of what we produced. And yes, most of the time the laughs were what we were aiming for.

We’re a pretty eclectic bunch. Our average age is, well, none of your business now that I think of it. Suffice it to say that we are all able to buy liquor in this state without showing an ID. (I just purchase for brandy sauce and rum cake at Christmas, that’s all.) At least one of us has had children; at least one has done drugs. None of us has ever run a backhoe or flown to the moon as far as I know, but our employment histories are all different. Our skin tends to be various shades of pinkish tan, and our hair is long and short, blonde and brown, with a smidge of silver scattered here and there on at least one of our heads–and to think that I used to pay a lot of money for that!

The point is that we are all different people, and yet when we come together we are also all the same–women who feel an urge to put thoughts into words and share them with each other.

I emphasize “women” here because prior to forming this group (small g) we all were, and still are, part of a larger Group (of mixed gender) who discussed and critiqued several submissions at meetings we held twice a month. As we went along, it became apparent that we could count on the men to like one set of submissions and the women to like the rest. Without thinking about it, we shifted our seats over time so that “they” sat at one end of the table and “we” sat at the other. We had no desire to change the Group or to leave it, but we decided we wanted more.

Over the Christmas holiday, the Barnes & Noble where our critique Group regularly met decided that they wanted our area for holiday displays during December. We all understand the bottom line, so we said OK, we’ll just put the Group on hiatus for those four or five weeks. Pretty soon, though, we were having withdrawal symptoms, and casual little e-mails started appearing in the inboxes of those from “our” end of the table.

“The guys won’t be interested, I’m sure, but . . . does anyone want to get together just to kick some ideas around so we don’t get stale during this long layoff?”

“Well, I will if the others want to.”

“I can come on Wednesdays but not Thursdays.”

“I can make it every other week unless Harry is working, but are we going to write or just talk?”

It just kind of evolved, and it’s turning out to be a great addition to the other Group we all still attend. We’ve decided that Tuesday nights will do just fine for now. If one of us comes up with a bit of writing that looks as if it might go somewhere, you can bet we’ll all be cheering the author on to greater things, even if that means submitting to the Group and taking chances with what “their” end of the table might contribute to the critique.

We have high hopes and a lot of fun. Keep in touch and see what might show up here about the Tuesday Evening Ladies’ Writing and Discussion Group. (I’d have voted for the Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League, but I Love Lucy beat us to it.)

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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