Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ties That Bind

Am I my brother's keeper? Am I obligated to be a friend to my friend's friend?

Oftentimes friends expect us to follow their lead even when we’ve a gut reaction to the contrary. I think these are a test of the friendship when we have to stand on principle and not be guided down a regrettable path.

My past friends were friends because we shared similar and different beliefs. The friendships I had back in Texas disintegrated because we grew apart emotionally, spiritually, or ties were severed because I relocated to New York. It’s difficult to maintain long-distance love affairs, let alone platonic friendships.

I don’t think I had or have a romantic, swashbuckling idea of friendship, but I think true friends are akin to family. What are those famous friendships on the silver screen? The Goonies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Breakfast Club, Stand By Me ,The Women of Brewster Place, Brian's Song, or Harry Potter.

I'm aware that people will have differences, arguments, and not speak to each other for days or weeks over silly infractions or misjudgments, but a honest-to-goodness friend will meet you in the middle to repair the riff. Hopefully the bond deepens, and the friends learn more about the other.

I'm blessed to have had and have good and great friends throughout my years in school and as an adult. I thoroughly enjoy friends who are on the same wavelength during a conversation -- more information is communicated than actually said. I like knowing that a friend is calling even before I answer the phone, or that I can send or receive a telepathic message to call; possible between some parents and children if their bond is strong.

A great friend knows as well as, if not better, than you know yourself. A real friend will tell you the truth when no one else will: "I don't think you should wear those parachute pants anymore. They might have been stylish back in college, but they're past their expiration date."

A good friend will let you sleep on their sofa or in La-Z Boy recliner when you've locked yourself out of the house until your roommate returns because you've no wallet and credit card to call the locksmith. A great friend will let you crash at their place just because you need to see another face without question. Besides, these types of friends know instinctively, witnessed by the few seconds of silent direct eye contact and a nod when the opens.

Friendship is knowing when to say you're sorry, and not apologizing when you don't have to because your friend knows they're in the wrong and won't admit it.

It might be morbid to think about dying and death in the prime of life, but as a writer I do wonder what my friends would say during a eulogy. Would I rise up out of the coffin and correct their syntax and grammar? Mind those dangling modifiers and participles, the ghost of the writer/editor intones in a sepulchral voice from the back of the mortuary.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Gabriel and the Lord

Gabriel went to the Lord and said,"I have to talk to you. We have some Texans up here who are causing problems. They're swinging on the Pearly Gates, my horn is missing, and they are wearing T-shirts instead of their robes; there's barbecue sauce and picante sauce all over everything, especially their T-shirts; their dogs are riding in the chariots and chasing the sheep;they are wearing baseball caps and cowboy hats instead of their halos. They refuse to keep the stairway to Heaven clean, and their boots are marking and scuffing up the halls of Wisdom. There are watermelon seeds and tortilla chip crumbs all over the place.Some of them are walking around with just one wing; and they insist on bringing their horses with them."

The Lord said, "Texans are Texans, Gabriel. Heaven is home to all of my children. If you want to know about real problems, call the Devil."

So Gabriel calls the Devil who answers the phone and says, "Hello--hold on a minute." When he returns to the phone the Devil says, "O.K., I m back. What can I do for you?"

Gabriel replied, "I just want to know what kind of problems you're having down there with the Texans."

The Devil said, "Hold on again. I need to check on something." After about 5 minutes the Devil returned to the phone and said. "I'm back. Now what was the question?"

Gabriel said, "What kind of problems are you having down there with the Texans?"

The Devil said, "Man, I don't believe this...hold on."
This time the Devil was gone 15 minutes and when he returns he says, "I'm sorry Gabriel, I can't talk right now. Those Texans have put out the fire and are trying to install air-conditioning."

*Sent via e-mail by a great friend in my home state of Texas.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Women's Tennis Fan

I have been an evolving women's tennis fan since the advent of the Williams Sisters in Grand Slam Finals. Prior to their storming onto the scene, I only knew of two African American tennis players, Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe.

I've never had a desire to play tennis or golf for that matter, but Venus and Serena made a believer out of me that anything is possible with Compton, Ca. background, and for this I applaud them. No need to list their accomplishments here, that's what the pundits and sports announcers enjoy doing. They will go down in history, much like Ms. Gibson and Mr. Ashe.

Men's tennis, unlike women's tennis is tedious. Most men on the circuit would soon bare and pound their chest than play compelling tennis. The female side of the equation is ripe with drama, drama queens, media rivalries, and probably stops short of hair pulling in the locker rooms. No doubt who'd always win if it came to blows between the frilly girls of tennis and either of the Williams Sisters in the locker room during rain delay at Wimbledon, The US Open, or The French Open. The folks down under at The Australian Open had the presence of mind to install a retractable roof for heat and rain.

Venus and Serena were raised better than to come to blows over a bad line call or reaction to something written about them in the press.

The French Open is coming up soon on DirecTV and ESPN2. I look forward to what might unfold, but American players haven't fared well on red clay in past years. Which makes me wonder why in the heck hasn't Chris Evert or Nick Bollettieri built several red clay practice courts to train American women and men players?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Writing a Family Memoir

I've attended a few author's events at Union Settlement, mostly question-and-answer sessions, with a signed free copy of memoir or novel at the end.

The first evening session featured Jonathan Franzen, author of The Discomfort Zone, my copy unsigned by choice. It's wedged on the bottom of my bookshelf in the hallway. I've picked it up and put it back many times. I'm not a hardcore Oprah fan, but I had a flashback to the temper tantrum he had when Lady O gushed and cooed on the literary merits of The Corrections. No need to rehash it here, anyone with a TV or Internet connection back then should be up to speed.

I still think he made a mountain of a mole hill, and should've graciously accepted the invitation and appeared on the show. I don't recall seeing him step out of a limousine at the event. His could've phoned in his answers to the predominantly Spanish-speaking attendees.

The other author on the panel was Donald Antrim, author of The Afterlife, a memoir I found infuriating until the end with unfocused musings on books, culture, and art. It was supposed to been an ode to his mother and her belief in the afterlife. I promised myself I'd read it completely, even after my roommate gave up within the first forty pages.

How can I write the first volume of a family memoir without reading the genre?

I am hoping for a better outcome with the next three memoirs on the shelf: The Liar's Club, Running with Scissors and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.

I have lots of old black-n-white and color family and neighborhood photos in various states of decay or fading, that I need to scan before too long. And I now have a serious group of creative nonfiction writers to workshop upcoming essays and memoir chapters. I'm looking forward to the process, which I know will be painful, but I'm determined to begin and finish the necessary work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We Were The Mulvaneys

When I first read We Were The Mulvaneys, I thought of how my family had changed over the years, but at that time didn't consider writing a memoir. In the last few years, I've inched closer to writing about my family and upbringing in Houston in a series of essays and reflections on this blog.

I titled my essay We Were The Williamses. The opening paragraph: We Were The Williamses, whatever that meant back then to neighbors in the immediate vicinity of Granny's house, at our Southern Methodist church, and school personnel. We were one of the largest families in the neighborhood. Holidays and birthday parties required planning, mending fences, and swallowing pride. Gatherings were successful when no one stormed out, leaving a trail of hurt feelings and profanity punctuated by a slammed door. During mellow times, the adults gossiped about the exploits of other large families as if there were an official guidebook for families with twenty or more members.

In the same paragraph, I continue: Various family members joked about writing a book to profit from our sordid affairs and history. I don't think anyone would commit to writing a book. The damage would be irreversible and unforgivable. I respect the invisible familial boundaries in writing essays, fiction, or screenplays. The physical and emotional distance between New York and Houston allows me to sort through truth and innuendo.

Update: I think three or four family members are ready to write a memoir with me in the driver's seat as writer and editor. Art imitating life? Be careful what you ask for or threaten?

A lot has changed since I originally wrote the essay in June 2005. Births, deaths, divorces, family members released from prison, while others have been incarcerated.

Maybe the reluctance (ambivalence) is all mine now, because one of my aunts has called me twice in the last week asking if I've mailed a list of family interview/background questions so she can research and report back to me. One of my cousins I originally wanted to spearhead a family tree project several years ago, I'm told, is doing just that.

I'm motivated to record my granny's life on a digital camera, or at least digital voice recorder. She turned ninety this year in February, which means she was born in 1917! I've imagined all sorts of images and sounds through her eyes and ears in the 1920's - 1940's, when she was a child and later a child-bride to my grandfather.

My grandmother reminds me of the matriarch in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabríel Garcia Márquez. Some family members believe Granny will outlive us all as a testament to her will to survive despite everything that has happened in her life. Granny perseveres because she knows nothing else to do. There was a time I thought the family would continue to multiply, never die. I was probably ten years old, and enjoying the reputation of a large family. We were a formidable family. Our numbers inspired awe or envy. Elementary and junior high schoolteachers knew my grandmother by first name, and would visit prior to or soon after disciplining one of the grandchildren. Granny would nod in agreement while a teacher or principal recounted surprise of one of our having misbehaved or sassed.

At some point, we stop being a united family; many things said and done that caused a riff among the ranks. We lost the magic or illusions we once shared. Gone are the silly poses and smiling faces in pictures. We have become strangers over the years, notwithstanding my living on the East Coast, and one cousin in the Army stationed in Germany. I know how time and distance plays with my heart and mind on Sunday afternoons when I call Houston.

Perhaps it is my shared duty to restore the family to its previous place so that we'll once again be The Williamses.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Male Body Image - 2

I've not worked out, skated, or danced with the African drummers consistently in the past two years, and does it show. There I was staring at my reflection in a dressing room mirror, shocked that my waist had expanded.

I'd always been skinny, able to shop wherever and whenever I wanted, because I knew I'd found something appropriate for my age and body type. I stopped wearing Gap Kids in grade school, but I could still wear husky sized clothes if I wanted to feel like Peter Pan wearing matching shirts and pants.

My father, may he RIP, was a beanpole until the day he died. My youngest brother is tall and skinny, the doppelgänger of our father.

Two or four additional inches around my waist isn't the end of the world, but I now know how teen girls and women feel when staring that covers of any number of glossy editorial and fashion magazines.

So, I'm standing in the mirror, feeling like a baby tugboat, holding in my tummy for I knew that I was having a nightmare and that I could still wear 28w. Everything looked out of proportion. I appeared to have had a double-chin, my face looked greasy, my ass too wide. I didn't cry. That would be silly.

It was then that I decided to shed these unwanted pounds so I can wear clothes resting in dresser drawers and starched, hanging in dry cleaners bags in the closet.

I bought and have begun taking Hydroxycut from GNC to help shrink my midsection in the next few weeks, at which point I will resume wearing my previous wardrobe.

Friday, May 18, 2007


What does it mean to be a trusted friend nowadays, and how might that different from casual or even fair weather friends? I don't think it's too much to ask for to have at least one solid friend to share the good, bad, and ugly moments in life. Friends are different than family, and in some cases are better than some relatives.

I've recently had to rely on a trusted friend who has morphed into a younger brother and confidante. He's seen the good, bad, and ugly in me, and still hangs on when others would have abandoned. It matters not that I speak of my roommate, or perhaps it does given the tough real estate market in New York. No, he's one of those people I can rely on.

Of all the people I've met and known in life, he's one of the best. Prior to meeting him, I wouldn't have thought we'd be roommates, let alone friends, but God knows all. Is it a responsibility or job to allow things to happen even when there's an opposite gut reaction?

In elementary and junior high school teachers and administrators cordoned me off as one of the elite students destined for success. I didn't realize back then the value of friendship because I'd always had cousins and extracurricular activities to keep occupied.

An interesting or strange factoid is that my mother and aunts were classmates or neighbors to my contemporaries. Friendship is usually organic, but sometimes parents or other relatives can prevent, taint, or destroy friendships based on slights or pains they suffered during their adolescence.

I tend to be more of a parent than a friend to people in my life, which has been beneficial to some, agonizing to others. It's my Type-A personality. There have been and are times I don't want to be the parent, but ultimately end up doing damage control.

* * *
There's no exact science to friendship. People have stopped talking to me because I didn't fly out to their wedding in Texas, after having hurt my knee while dancing in Central Park. It might have been nice to be a groomsman, but this former classmate expected me to pay for the flight and accommodations. The flight I'd have paid for, but he couldn't have spared a sleeping bag or pullout sofa. He was at the mercy of his fiancée and her family.

* * *
I fell out of contact with many people when I relocated from Texas to NYC. I can't blame them entirely, long-distance calls and flights can be expensive both ways. However, when I moved here, I did have a computer and an e-mail address for budget-conscious people.

People change, and it's best not to live in the past. Whatever the case, I'm glad I have someone standing by my side.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ninth Annual Literature Festival

I was invited to speak on a panel with other writers at Union Settlement's 9th Annual Literature Festival on May 15th. I was slated to appear at 6:15 p.m. to discuss Memoir Writing or to read an excerpt from an essay.

I wasn't nervous as two of my adult basic education students thought, but I did wonder what would happen once the event started. The auditorium was filled with local artists' paintings, sculptures, and student artwork and collages.

My only concern was prior to going on stage, I thought was underdressed, but dismissed the fears when I looked around to room and saw some of the other writers in casual attire.

The director called the first set of panelists to the stage, and we were underway. After a spoken word artist talked about his background and poetry, I introduced myself and began reading an excerpt from a new essay about family photos and history. My excerpt was simultaneously translated into Spanish for those in the audience who didn't speak and/or completely understand English.

I had to stop reading the excerpt because of time constraints, and then shifted to an impromptu How I Write discussion. I brought along an envelope of photos and explained how I translated the photos into words, as if my reader was visually-impaired. What would these pictures look like to a person who can't see, and only has to rely on braille or the essay being read to them?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Healthy Writing Groups

One of the words I don't like to use or hear in a critique session is should. I feel that it takes ownership away from the writer's work under consideration.

When I hear should I stop listening because it crosses a personal boundary for me as a writer and workshop member. A person bandying about the word obviously has forgotten that the first rule of a workshop -- everyone has an opinion. At the end of a workshop, I take what works and discard the rest.

It's not only in writing workshops, but in life, too, that I reject the word should.

I look forward to the time in my writing life that I have less to say about personal e-mail and attacks against my writing workshops by writers who want to project their rigid views on me and others.

Sidebar: What makes one a writer? Is it solely to commit words to an electronic document or the printed page? Must one earn a living writing words? Or are hobbyists considered writers as well? Does publishing a book make one a writer if said person will only have one book in print over the course of a lifetime?

A healthy writing group is one where writers come to share their personal opinions. Everyone knows that the world is fodder for those of us who write. Unfortunately, nothing is sacred. Just take a stroll through your local bookstore or browse the magazine rack. Anyone who believes that there are original ideas in the world is woefully mistaken. What separates my essay, short story, or novel is my personal background, tastes, prejudices, questions, and viewpoint.

Writers in a community must open themselves to criticism, harsh in some cases if a writer isn't quite getting that their submission is stuck in neutral. Writers who invest the time and energy in being supportive must at times administer tough love to fellow community members. I'd rather a writer show his/her true colors sooner than later to save time, energy, and Xerox copies of tips and tools.

Writing groups, if they are to survive, need focus, structure, and a tireless and fearless leader to weather the comings and goings of people unable to grasp what makes a group work. Check the online listings for writing groups to see for yourself just how many don't work, and then get back to me with your findings.

As moderator of a writing group, I must make decisions for the group that individual members can't or don't understand because they only see their involvement, not the survival of the group.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Truthful Blogging

I am new to blogging, but it hasn't been until recently that I've enjoyed showing up to the screen to record my feelings at a moment in time. Years ago, I worked through the Artist Way by Julia Cameron and started writing my morning pages. It was a great relief to clear my head and heart of people and things that ailed me so that I was able to have a productive day.

My blog isn't highly-trafficked, so I've never been concerned about people reading and commenting upon my reflections, recommendations, and rants.

The morning pages helped me back then, but the yellow legal pad pages accumulated after a period of time, and I promised myself that I'd set about transcribing them on the computer to refer to if and when old feelings cropped up again. I've not started that process, and don't know if I want to. There's something about the handwritten word, each curl and stroke of the pen offering an insight to my mood at that time. Some entries are more legible than others.

There are those who believe personal thoughts and criticisms should remain in traditional journals and the province of a therapist's office. Fortunately, I'm not one of them. One of the potential advantages is reaching out and connecting with others with similar experiences.

I know there are other writing group moderators in the world who have gone through or will go through the pains of organizing, moderating, and participating in a structured workshop. Why then should I be secretive and keep my thoughts to myself? Every solution isn't applicable for every challenge.

The question of what to include, and how honest to be doesn't haunt me as it might other bloggers. I am not out to slander or cause anyone harm with my entries.

Words can carry weight, but anyone who takes away that I'm vicious or malicious doesn't grasp why I try to commit to regular postings. It's painstaking for me, too, to figure out how deep I should go in any entry. When the question of honesty comes up, I try to err on the side of total honesty when writing about real people and events. I do, however, have the decency to never use real names, change venues, genders, and/or dates to prevent any unnecessary embarrassment.

I don't blog to pass judgment. It's my goal to better understand myself and the world in which I live. I don't post entries to belittle, but to see myself on a local and global stage. I often wonder if my experiences are as monumental as I might think, or are (some of them) mere drops in a bottomless pit.

I don't like when others read my blog and pass judgment because an entry offends and unnerves them. Last time I checked, America was a free country, and my freedom of speech was protected by the government.

I don't write to stir anyone but myself. I'd rather have troubling thoughts outside rather than inside, and if others can benefit or guide me toward healing or better understanding, I'm all for it.

I'm not against traditional therapy and therapists, but my blog never closes and is free of charge. Why should I censor myself because some uptight or prudish person swoons on the verge of fainting?

Everyone has a path to follow, and I feel it's rude for another to tell me what I can or cannot post in my blog.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pretty Women/Ladies Who Lunch

I have had the most difficult time finding and recruiting female writers for Morningside Writers Group, and most recently the Creative Nonfiction Group.

Where are the focused, disciplined, workshop-minded women with a backbone in New York City?

I'd like to think I'm not insensitive to women in any way, shape, or form. I grew up with strong Southern black women who taught their boys to grow up to be men who wouldn't cause women pain. I don't hold a degree in understanding the intricacies of womanhood, which shouldn't be a problem to moderating and participating in a critique group. However, it's been an uphill battle recruiting women writers who will stay beyond a few weeks or months.

Life was easier when I was on stage as an actor. I expected people to behave differently as they enacted characters perhaps unlike their true selves. Acting uses a different muscle than writing, but they're not mutually exclusive. As an actor, I searched deep within myself to create characters younger or older, richer or poorer than I was. As a writer, I use my actor's imagination to create characters that could stand up from the page and inhabit a stage or TV or movie screen. Still, I'm at a loss to understanding women.

I thoroughly enjoyed dancing barefoot in Central Park with the African and Caribbean drummers and dancers. The drums brought together people from all over the world, black, white, European, South American, female and male. I understood back then that women danced differently than men. Women accentuate their bodies unlike men in African dance, each movement or gesture signifying something spiritual or cultural. I danced alongside native and trained female dancers, and was amazed at how they could maneuver their heads and limbs to the sounds of the Djembe and Dun-Duns.

The world of writing and publishing is a different beast altogether. I've never tried to superimpose my idea of what a woman is, could be, or should be as I've searched for writers to interview and add to the groups. I know it would be foolish to compare anyone else to my mother, grandmother, or aunts. Their lives are vastly different, but yet I sit befuddled each time a female writer calls or e-mail that she's withdrawing from one of the workshops for reasons that other men in the groups find silly. We scratch our heads as I replay the disapproving conversation or pore over the e-mail to see what could have gone wrong this time.

Is it merely a female/male disconnect?

Going back to my early theater/commercial/musical theater roots, I think the song Pretty Women/Ladies Who Lunch as sung by Barbra Streisand is an apt ending to this entry. The lyrics can be found here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Family Lore, Legacy and Lies

In the past two or three months I've attended writing events in Spanish Harlem where published and/or infamous writers discussed the craft of fiction and memoir writing. Prior to these question-and-answer sessions, I'd never had the desire to read biographies or memoirs.

All lives aren't created equal or aren't worthy of a book. We all have lives, must we write about them?

What's the practical application for writing a memoir? To revisit and freeze moments in time for others to read, and hopefully glean something useful from another's pain and triumphs?

I recently suffered through The Afterlife by Donald Antrim, a supposed ode to his alcoholic, grand, and delusional mother. One online reviewer wrote, "
I thought the author was too scattered. He went off in too many directions. I was disappointed. Would like to have had more details instead of his way out there ramblings." I felt the same way.

I also have free copies of The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen, Another Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn, and The Liars' Club by Mary Karr, which I intend to read, however if I lose interest, I won't labor through to the end as I did with the previous memoir.

My goal is to revisit my large Southern family's past as best I can and record the people and pivotal experiences to share with a broad audience. My grandmother is ninety years old as of this past February. My dream situation would be to take my granny on a road trip with a private nurse and personal chef, and videotape her as she reminisces about her life in the 1920s, 1930s in Texas. I wonder what it was like for her as a young bride and eventual mother of nine daughters and three sons, one of which who died as an infant.

There's a lot I want to know about her life but will probably never know, or perhaps it's not my place to know. Everyone has boundaries that shouldn't be invaded.

We were told stories of my maternal grandfather's discipline, which had children's protective services existed and cared back then might have removed my mother or her siblings from the house, or landed my grandfather in jail. There were recollections of my grandfather just missing one of my aunt's head with a brick as she ducked around the side of the house after sassing him out. Or his using an ironing cord on one of the others. I don't remember my maternal grandfather. He died when I was three years old.

My earliest memories of my family is that we were a large, loud, and combative group. I remember holidays, birthdays, births, and deaths at Granny's. Over the next few weeks, months, and years if need be, I'll sort through the facts and fiction, and decide what's worthy of transcribing for a reading public.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Hazards of a Critique Group

In the last few months I've revamped the Creative Nonfiction Group that I'd previously established in the fall of 2006.

I went against my proven Morningside Method of advertising, screening, and recruiting writers because I had not proven myself as a moderator of a memoir or personal essay workshop. This was the wrong thing to do, and I wish I'd had someone to shake sense into me when I set about creating the new critique group.

The previous group had good writers who lacked commitment and focus, writers who habitually arrived late.

I felt out of control, but reminded myself to take deep breaths because that group was a new venture, and I wanted to distance it from my brainchild Morningside Writers Group, for whatever foolish reason. If it's not broken, don't fix it!

There will always be people who will not agree with my methods of organizing, scheduling, or moderating a group. I will not lose any sleep over these people. There's a group for everyone, and I have Morningside Writers Group as proof that the system works.

We use a critique form, a glass booth method, wherein each member gives the writer fifteen to twenty minutes of uninterrupted feedback. Writers looking for more of an open-ended, rambling feedback style would not feel comfortable with the structure in place.

Everyone's busy, and some people have short attention spans and tend to zone out when one has belabored a point.

I know I can't please everyone, and I won't try to.

I'm more concerned with finding an agent and publishing my growing essay collection as I figure out how to proceed with the first volume of a personal/family memoir.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Change of Times and Seasons

Two summers ago I rollerbladed to the music in the outdoor rink in Central Park, near Sheep's Meadow and danced with the African drummers and dancers, originally near Bethesda Fountain, and later near the bandshell.

Something happened over the years that I lost my motivation to pack sandwiches, strap on my blades, and bullet myself toward West 72nd Street to roll, bounce, and shake my booty to classic R&B, Hip Hop, and House music.

I watched people come and go in the outdoor rink and drum circle. A few participants have met with tragic or dramatic deaths over the years.

What was once fun, became political or mundane. Several years back the drummers had their Djembe and dun-duns confiscated by Central Park Police or dour-faced representatives from the Central Park Conservancy, and had to appear in front of a judge to reclaim.

I miss the community of skaters, hangers-on, and tourists who'd congregate around the rink with their 35mm, digital,or videocameras. I met cool people and learned a few tricks on my blades.

The drum circle at its height was incomparable. East and West African, Caribbean and South American drummers in college drumline formation as trained, natural, and not-so rhythmic dancers from all over the world performed barefoot as even more people gathered in the grass behind us, or atop the bridge, clapping their hands and swaying to the beats.

Here's a picture of me at least three feet in the air, muscled, and lean. How I yearn for that physique again.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Where Are The Women Writers in NYC?

I have had the most difficult time finding and maintaining serious, committed, and mature female writers for Morningside Writers Group in the metro New York City area.

Men who've walked through the revolving door of Morningside have been different, but similar to the women who've faded into black. The most common excuse for men leaving the group has been that their girlfriend or spouse demanded more time at home after work, rather than have him lallygagging with some writer's group.

It is puzzling and troubling when all statistics show that women read more than men, yet I can't find women writers to commit for more than three, six, or nine months. This is in all three divisions of the group -- Fiction, Screenwriting, and Graphic Novel.

Each case has been different, but a majority of the women have been either fretful, angry, emotional, or just passing through. One such writer threatened litigation or voodoo via e-mail after realizing she wasn't due a refund of the nonrefundable membership dues.

Then there's the female writer who dropped out of the group after I'd written glowing recommendations for MFA applications, of which she was accepted to two. I felt used, but life continued after her departure.

I am the first to admit that I don't understand why there's a drought of female writers in the five boroughs with a body of work, willing to commit for at least a year, and able to give and receive insightful feedback.

The time is fast-approaching that I won't balance the groups based on gender. It's not sad, but a fact of life that there's more to the difference between men and women than cats and dogs.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Openings in Morningside Writers Group

Morningside Fiction Group has two available seats at our roundtable. There are currently three men and one woman. We would like to keep an equal female to male ratio, but wouldn't turn away dedicated, serious, and talented male writers with a body of work. We are seeking serious, committed, FOCUSED female writers who can commit to at least one year.

If interested in applying, please visit the following link:

Morningside Graphic Novel Group has two available seats at our roundtable. There are currently three men and one woman. We would like to keep an equal female to male ratio, but wouldn't turn away dedicated, serious, and talented male writers with a body of work.

If interested in applying, please visit the following link: