I meet with a group of writers that call ourselves the Saturday Morning Coffee and Critique group (SMCC). I am constantly awed and inspired by their feedback. We have gotten to know each other's characters and their stories. I feel lucky to be part of their creative process.
One of my inspirations, Ray Bradbury, had his own writing group. In 1939 Forest J. Ackerman invited 19 year old Ray Bradbury to join his group of science fiction writers. They met at Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles.
I can just imagine Bradbury, “the kid,” sitting at the cafeteria table with the other writers. I'm picturing a long formica table, littered with overflowing ashtrays and all-you-can-drink limade. Bradbury is engaged in deep conversation with the likes of Emil Petaja, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, Leigh Bracket, Jack Williamson and Robert A. Heinlein.
Ray Bradbury sparked my love of science fiction. My middle grade years were shaped by Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, Ferhenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man. Bradbury talked informally at Santa Barbara City College in the late seventies. I remember he was so authentic and enthusiastic. He wanted to pass on his passion for storytelling, like Forest J.Ackerman had passed it on to him in that writing group at Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles.
The right group is out there if you really want to find one. There are all kinds of writing groups all over the place. Meet-Up http://www.meetup.com/about offers many local writing groups worth checking out. You can try starting your own Meet-Up group. Professional organizations have resources too. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators refers members to groups.
I love that Ray Bradbury inspired Stephen King. Ray Bradury must have enjoyed reading King. I am sure the seasoned author that rose from the comradery at Clifton's Cafeteria appreciated King's lines as much as I do. This is what I think about my writing group:
"Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don't have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough." -Stephen King