Earlier this year, I joined a fabulous writing group called Tuesday Night Ink, which is made up of some kick-ass talented writers. The group follows the Amherst Writers & Artists’ method, which is pretty simple: “Every person is a writer, and every writer deserves a safe environment in which to experiment, learn, and develop craft.”
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have your writerly confidence polished and spit-shined during these sessions, instead of rubbed raw and spit upon, which is how some writing/critique groups do things. Don’t get me wrong—critical, constructive criticism has its place; I’ve had my share and hope to have more because when done correctly, a writer who is open to it can flourish. But there’s nothing like entering what one of the members calls that “sacred space.” It makes putting your writing out there that much easier.
Along with the generous gift of these writers’ time and attention to each others’ words, two of them also gave me a shiny, new title: Nonfiction Editor of 3Elements Review. These two members are the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of 3Elements, and they flattered me when they asked me to join their staff not too long ago. Here’s proof of the honor they’ve bestowed on me, and where you can also see their lovely photos and read their bios.
3Elements is a a themed literary journal. For each submission period, the staff chooses three elements and those three must be included in each piece that’s submitted. For example, this period’s elements are wring, respite and smudge.
It was in that spirit a couple of months ago in our writing group that I belched out the below piece using the elements of Santa, vanity and banana peel. Please consider this my joyous, albeit kind of creepy, contribution to the holiday season—it’s about Santa (kind of) so it counts.
Merry Happy Holidays, all of them, to you and yours!
Letter to Santa
Today is Tuesday. Daddy has gone away on a Very Important Trip. Mommy said he’s gone to “Leslie, The Tramp,” but I don’t know where that town is.
I go to the kitchen to make breakfast: Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch with chocolate milk and a tall glass of Mr. Pibb. I pour them all together in my mouth and swoosh it around. It tastes like a brown cow. Yum!
After I eat, I open the back door and yell for Chester. But like yesterday and the day before that and the ones before those two, he doesn’t come. I call for him anyway. At least I can say I tried.
It’s cold in here this morning, so I go to Mommy and Daddy’s room and take the electric blanket off their bed. I drag it across the room, wrap it around my shoulders, and sit at Mommy’s vanity. I can’t find one of the plug-in thingies in the wall, so it doesn’t get warm. I could have left it on the bed, plugged in behind Daddy’s nightstand, but the bed still smells like my pee. That first night was really hard.
After painting my face with Mommy’s makeup, I figure it’s time. I walk down the hall to the basement door, careful not to step on the banana peel I laid there for Mommy. She flew down the stairs fast, just like in the cartoons. Weeee!
I can hear her from up here, calling my name over and over. I need to find more of that thick, gray tape.
When I get to the bottom of the stairs, I see her, right where I left her—in Chester’s kennel. I bet now she wishes she had got me the Great Dane instead of the Schnauzer.
I stare at her from across the room. She reaches through the kennel wires. Her fingernails are broken, the paint chipped, and her face is striped with black tracks all the way down to her chin. Daddy won’t like that. He likes pretty nails and clean, shiny faces. I turn and go back up the stairs. She calls after me.
I sit down at the kitchen table and start my letter to Santa.
I don’t care what Mommy says.
I know he’s real.
So, what about you? If you’re a writer, are you or have you ever been part of a writing group? What was your experience? If you were creating one from scratch, what would it look like? What title would you love to bestow upon yourself? Finally, “Letter to Santa”—cute or creepy?