Craft Talk: Writers Groups

Working nice with others as a possible imposter ...

I think I may have been a part of one or two groups in my entire life. There was one in Oregon that lasted until they read my first story. I should dig up that email they sent me afterwards. It went something like:

“We’re a buncha old folks trading ditties to pass the time, Sascha, and this whores and darkness tale you sent us kinda … well, we don’t have any idea what to do with it. GL,HF.”

Understandable. I think I knew what I was doing when I sent my story, whichever one it was at the time, but I was also hoping for some feedback. I was hoping it wouldn’t become what I already knew it was. Because, the truth is, I need a group to write with, as – I believe – do all writers.

Case in point:

I am going to Hamline U for a graduate degree in Creative Writing, and all I really look forward to are Workshops and Student Loans. The lesson? Writers need financial support and feedback. It’s incredibly hard to finance your life while trying to be creative, and it’s also incredibly hard to edit and revise your own work without anyone taking a look and pointing out the obvious. Even the solitary writers got feedback, eventually, no matter how they framed their journey (hermit against the world emerges with masterpiece, for example).

My favorite anecdote is about Cormac McCarthy, who famously lived in a shack and wouldn’t come out or do shit until he finished his first novel. His long suffering wife, supposedly, diligently wiped his ass in the hopes of a better life once her genius husband finished his opus. How much of that is narrative after the fact and how much of that is reality is, of course, irrelevant – I bet my sack she read his drafts and listened to him rant and nodded and the very incline of her nod told him what to strike, and what to keep.

Your Boy In A Group Now

They let me in. And they haven’t kicked me yet.

See, even writing that line above this one is a testament to the imposter syndrome I often feel when I’m with other artists. It’s a mixture of my feverish need to share everything I’ve got – cuz I gots a lot – and my dread of oversharing to the point of getting elbowed out of the group. It’s this push and pull between letting my light shine bright and not blinding others with a poorly timed pulse.

I felt it at Art of Whirl as well. Big time. I finally met a few of the artists I have been following on Instagram – Maiya Lea Hartman, Leslie Barlow, Ryan Stopera – and it was dope. BUT. I was shook a lot of the time, because I wanted to download my entire Me into their consciousness immediately, so they could know right off the bat how much I am ready to blow up, WHILE, at the same time, trying to play it calm and cool so I don’t fuck it all up and alienate people I am trying to attract. And work with. And create dope shit with.

And because, although they are all just an embodiment of me, shattered and searching for the source like all living beings, I still can’t read these peoples’ minds. I can only guess and project and discard and guess again and shake it off and try to stop guessing … And my ass is the type to be like, “hey yo I’m feeling weird, am I weird? Do you think I’m being weird? Is this weird? Oh shit this is weird isn’t it …”

There really is only one solution to this type of suffering (and most suffering, ime) and that is work. Create. Grind – but not in the capitalist “grind at the expense of all other” grind, but in the Embrace Grind. The grind that walks to the pace of surroundings. The grind that’s music, and dance, and perfectly timed laughter.

The grind that seeks the source just like you do, like the me in you, the grind that seeks the source in you so to find it in me, and thereby do away with it all, for just a moment, every such moment a pulse of light within the ever beating heart that through the green drives the flower.

Picture of Sascha Matuszak
Sascha Matuszak

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