Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Knowing When to End the Perfect Evening

Last evening I spent two hours with one of the critique groups I helped organize last year through Northern Colorado Writers. This group now calls itself High Plains Drafters.

Don't you love the names writers come up with for their groups? Another group I facilitated at the beginning is focused on mystery fiction. They named their group The Red Herrings.

Anyway, back to last night's gathering. They invited me as their special guest to a picnic and critique session on the sandy beach of a small lake north of town. I ate a sandwich, a couple of raw veggies, a few nachos, and a great piece of chocolate zucchini cake.

Although I had expected heat and humidity next to the lake, and planned for a mosquito attack since the pesky things find me very tasty, none of that came to pass. It was cool. Fish were jumping way before the sun dropped behind the hills. During that two hours, at least six flights of Canadian geese came from across the lake and passed overhead in their perfect V formation.

I propped my leg on the crossbar of the picnic table and relaxed as I listened to the group critique three submissions after each author read a couple of pages out loud. I didn't have much to add since their critiquing skills are excellent. This mixed genre fiction group has made great progress on their novels and short stories.

It was a wonderful to be in the good company of supportive writers critiquing good writing.

When two members of the group went to launch their kayaks, however, I saw the writing on the lake. If I stayed, someone was sure to talk me into one of those contraptions. A canoe is good, a rowboat better, but I'm afraid to get in a kayak. My spirit of adventure runs head on into my fear of drowning by hanging upside down in the clutches of something I can't escape.

I ended the perfect evening by beating a fast retreat. I have no regrets.

28 comments:

Rayna M. Iyer said...

In your place, I would have beat a hasty retreat too.
Seems like you had a great day.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I wouldn't even get in a rowing boat. You did right to beat a hasty retreat.

Yvonne,

Clarissa Draper said...

What a beautiful night! I'm glad you had a good time.

CD

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like fun! Love the names for the groups. :)

Terry Odell said...

Sounds wonderful. My first writing group was The Pregnant Pigs.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Carol Kilgore said...

What a great evening! Is this early for Canada geese? Timing is everything.

arlee bird said...

What an outdoorsy critique group! Seems out of character for what I'd picture, but sounds like a pleasant evening. And I'm with you on the kayaking concept.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Karen Walker said...

Sounds so lovely, Patricia. Nice to be at an age where we can do what we want, leave when we want, and aren't compelled to do whatever our peers are doing. Hasty retreats are good sometimes. You'll never find me in a kayak either.
Karen

Talli Roland said...

This sounds like a fantastic group! I love kayaks - I would have liked to have paddle off into the blue yonder... how poetic.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I knew there would be some among my visitors who love kayaks. Brave soul!

Stephen Tremp said...

Hasty retreats are necessary if you want to live to breath another day. Sounds like you have an adventurous group. I need to get out more.

Stephen Tremp

Elspeth Antonelli said...

This sounds like a lovely evening! I confess, however, that I'm drawn to kayaks. I've never been in one, but they fascinate me. Someday...

I'm another one that mosquitoes love to feast upon. Pesky lil varmints.

Kay Theodoratus said...

At least, you left in time to write another day. I'd be fearful the kayak would roll half-way and not come up.

Name: Luana Krause said...

Thanks for sharing. A lovely evening. The group names are so creative (Red Herring; High Plains Drafters) LOVE IT.

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Pat,
I love the name "High Plains Drafters"! I'll have to get my critique group, that we just call "critique group" to have a brainstorming session and come up with a cute name.
- Beth

Ann Best said...

Great group names. And what a lovely evening you had. I'm mildly afraid of water too. Your post reminds me of a time I thought I was going to drown in the Great Salt Lake, a memory that I think I'll post. Just confirms my assertion that we get ideas from blogging!

How I'd love a cool day here. It's gone into the nineties again, and now they're predicting a hurricane up the East coast. If it touches us here in Virginia it probably won't bring anything more than some cool weather, which will be nice for us but not good for North Carolina.

Have a cool day and another wonderful evening.
Ann

The Daring Novelist said...

Ha! Making a good exit is a necessary skill.

I'm "meeting" with my virtual group tonight. (Okay, so we're not really meeting, I'm just devoting the evening to reading and critting.) Maybe I'll make some cookies.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Ann and all the rest of you folks on the east coast, take care. One of the reasons my hubby and I retired to Colorado was to escape those Florida hurricanes. Living through one of those things is the pits. I'll be thinking about you, and hoping old Earl wobbles a bit and wanders out to sea.

Jennifer Carter said...

Pat, you're so modest. Not only did you facilitate our group, you taught us all how to BE a group--how to critique and be critiqued, and also how to maintain our own rules so we could keep going.

I didn't need any help avoiding the kayaks though. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I would've been right behind you.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Jennifer. It was a great pleasure seeing you all again.

And I'm glad to know I'm not the only kayak-shy writer in this bunch. Looks like the majority of you avoid kayaking. Maybe I should write the my next adventure post about how I avoid riding in a hot air balloon, even though it's been on my bucket list for thirty years.

In reading back through the comments, I realized Terry had the critique group name that will top my list forever. The Pregnant Pigs? That's priceless. Terry, if you come back, could you explain how that name came about. Well, I understand the pregnant part, but pigs?

Sheila Deeth said...

I love those group names too. And I'm definitely kayak-shy too. Last time my husband went on one our youngest son said he was scared--provided the perfect excuse for me to stay on solid land with him. Youngest son's just grown up and left home though, and husband's making plans... what excuse can I come up with now.

Mary said...

Kayak at night-- not likely! I would have beat you to the car.

Terry Odell said...

Patricia, the name derived from a hotly contested Florida Constitutional Amendment regulating the size of enclosures for pregnant pigs. Animal lovers felt they weren't given enough roaming room. Now, there's no problem with regulating animal welfare, but the state constitution seemed a bit of overkill. End result: the amendment passed, and all of the pig ranches (of which there were FOUR in number in the state) decided it made more sense to butcher their pigs and avoid the new law entirely.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Patricia Stoltey said...

I don't know, Sheila. I just said I was chicken and made a beeline for my car. I guess you couldn't just drive off and leave your husband and the kayak alone, could you?

Terry--a constitutional amendment, that's unbelievable. But at least you got a great writer's group name from the controversy. Thanks for coming back by to satisfy my curiosity. :)

And thanks to everyone else who has (or who will) visit with me today. I'm going to do a little blog-hopping of my own now, so maybe I'll see you along the road.

Medeia Sharif said...

What a great time.

I wouldn't go in a kayak either.

Barbara Scully said...

Oh Patricia, that sounds just so idyllic. A picnic by a lake with no mozzies, and geese flying overhead listening to writers share their work! Ohhhhh

Ciss B said...

Not a kayaker, eh? Me neither. I think your timing was impeccable (Mainly because that is not my sport either!!!)