…in the form of Submit! (my writing group). I have been given the duct-tape to fix the broken story. I have also been given a great deal of homemade pizza, chewy brownies and berry pie. I proceeded to burn it all off in nervous tension while I read the conclusion to the broken story: twisting my hair, swinging my foot, drawing little triangles on the table with my fingertip and chewing the skin off my lower lip.
This tension comes from the distance between this story and a thing which really happened: a distance apparently not enough to allow me to read it with complete equanimity.
Other stories, I’ve been able to read to the group without flinching, because those stories were less new and because I knew they were good. This one was still wet, and not good yet, and it felt quite a bit like something private and nasty: a dental examination, perhaps, or the scrutiny of a hostile lover. This despite the fact that my group consists of the most mature, supportive, talented people for whom I could possibly wish.
Hah… my problem is that they’re all rather too good for me, I suspect. Established and intelligent people who manage to write brilliant things while raising children and conducting admirable careers. While I, held together with safety-pins, imperfectly powdered, and not quite sober, attempt to distract them with pyrotechnics as I discover too late that my fly is undone.