Write, Wrong or Indifferent
Joining a Writer’s Guild
The night of the first guild meeting finally arrived. Because it was December, it had already become pitch-black by the 7 o’ clock scheduled start. I was haggard from work, and had been in a fair amount of back pain all day. On especially trying days, I cannot wait to come home from work and pull off my shoes and put on comfy clothes, usually PJs. This was definitely one of those days. I chose a decent pair of sweats to wear to the meeting, and when I passed my husband as I walked out the door, grumbled: “I hate clothes.”
“I love you,” he said anyway.
How I adore that man.
The guild meeting was held in a church classroom, and the parking lot was only dimly lit. I realized how dimly lit when I accidentally ran over an orange traffic cone, and then another. The last cone was still dragging under the Jeep when I screeched into (what I assumed was) a parking space. When I look up, there is the silhouette of a woman standing in the doorway to the classroom. I can tell by her body language that she is trying to look casual, as if she is unsure whether to laugh, offer help, or call the cops. I am five minutes late now, and I hate being late for anything. Maybe I should just go home.
When I step out of the car, it immediately begins to rain. I am cold, nervous, embarrassed and now wet. The six copies of my article are wet too, I notice, around the edges. I slog up to the door, and the woman I had seen in the doorway was gone. But I do see Melissa!
She is standing at a “welcome “area. Melissa is a kindred spirit. She claims to feel awkward, too, on a regular basis, but it is hard to imagine her insecurity. She is deeply and powerfully beautiful and disarmingly candid – which made me love her right away when we met several years ago.
I couldn’t wait to hug her.
She explained how the guild meeting works, and gave me some pamphlets and other materials.
“I’ll sign you in,” she says. “What is your genre?”
I had no idea. This article would not fit neatly in any one “box”. If I were to “shop” the piece out, what magazine might buy it? Again, no idea. Although it was essentially about parenting, it would certainly not be a fit for parenting magazines (which, really, only cover the predictable parenting topics like potty training or making popsicle-stick art. Show me an article in a magazine for parents entitled, “You Want to Pierce WHAT?” and I will buy a subscription on the spot).
There are spiritual aspects to the piece as well, but I doubted a Christian magazine would touch it, what with its subject matter (tattoos) and generally snarky overtones. And, it was neither comedy nor horror, though to be honest, there were elements of both. I tried to quell the anxiety that I am in the wrong place at the wrong time, with a genre-less essay. This was not a good start.
“Don’t worry about it,” Melissa soothed. “It’s ok. Just find a seat.”
In a room right off the hallway, the other ladies sat in school chairs in a small auditorium. It was, actually, the Band room for the Christian school housed at the facility. There were less than a dozen women scattered unevenly throughout about forty chairs and while I was wondering what significance – if any – choosing where to sit might have with perceived writing skill, they stopped chatting amongst themselves to say hello. I responded, took a random seat, and resumed thinking about the universality of Band rooms all over America, with their distinctive scent of woodwind oil and their porous ceilings, and …yes?
Oh, yes…..Nice to meet you, too.
A lady had just arrived and taken the seat right next to me.
She was well-dressed (business-casual, you might say) and I noticed that her brown leather purse matched her brown leather shoes perfectly. A quick look around the room revealed that all of the ladies are lovely. They are all “put together”, by outward appearance anyway. No-one else is wearing sweatpants. No-one else had her hair in a poorly executed (and wet) ponytail. Suddenly, I was in 8th grade band again, the new kid. I wondered why I was there.
I was wondering, too, where did the other traffic cone I hit go? When Melissa sat in the other free chair next to me and took my hand to hold. And the meeting began.