Friday, September 18, 2009

Group dynamics


I have been part of many writers' groups over many years. I joined a new one today -- actually a "class" at the community college but it appears it is going to function like a fairly typical writers' group with a facilitator rather than a teacher. The other 14 people are all strangers to me, or were, until I had watched them a while. All individual, yes, of course, but definable by their interactions.

A bit under half had taken the class before and knew each other. They were the vocal ones, at first. But then one of the new comers had a great need to make his presence felt so he talked, and talked. Later talked some more with relatively little to say but elicting attention that he wanted. Two women were the focus at first almost vying for the spotlight, although settled into a Lone Ranger and Tonto role for a while. But then each chose to read some writing. The Long Ranger was clever and smooth, with a hackneyed subject. Okay. Then Tonto -- ah, Tonto showed daring and depth relating a very private past experience. Writing was not polished but dripped with emotion. Tonto slyly stole the show.

Next week both will have to listen to others; the dynamics are not likely to change greatly but I suspect there will be surprises. Sharing one's writing in a group takes some guts, some ego. The majority being older women, a lot of egos have been squelched long ago. But they have a spark still smoldering or they wouldn't be there. They will write about "family". Some may surprise me. A couple of men seem to have some depths to express. We shall see.

Me? My ego is healthy, I'll express it with the exotica of Tibet, in a time and place they don't know. I will tell them how I want them to listen and respond -- that will help me. Why should I be there if I'm only going to get a stroked ego? I can elicit some helpful and, I hope, honest responses. Maybe prod a little smidgeon of critical thinking.

[The photo of baboons above is a bit of odd ball humor, if you think a bit about it.]

1 comment:

kasscho said...

Oh yes, the baboons...writer's groups...living a long life with the luxury of putting our egos in a comfortable place. Such nice writing. I'm a fan.