Daniel Roy Greenfeld

Daniel Roy Greenfeld

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Cat Vacuuming Society

This was originally posted on blogger here.

What? Vacuuming a cat? Why would anyone do such a thing? And who would form a society for it?

Apparently, writers often find all sorts of excuses and side tasks to avoid actually writing. And cleaning felines with an electrical appliance is considered a choice method of avoiding putting words to paper. Hence the name my wife choose for the writing group she formed in January 2001 and continues to this day almost every Thursday night.

This is no mean feat. Most writer's groups, like any other hobby group, last about six months. As of this post, my wife has carried her group forward for nearly 8 years. A few people have stuck around since the beginning with her, others have come and gone, and the momentum of the group has continued it across several large book stores.

The structure of the group has changed over the years. Early on it was highly democratic, with everyone having pretty much the ability to veto anything. Rules crept in since this sort of democracy is crippling. Disruptive individuals entered the mix, forcing the group to adopt rules of order. Periodically people demanded contracts of behavior and delivery of content. And, to my wife's surprise, a lot of people just wanted her to take charge. These transitions were not easy and nearly saw the end of the group. Eventually she assumed a mantle for the group of being what we call in the Open Source world 'Benevolent Dictator for Life'.

And so my wife joined the esteemed ranks of Linus Torvalds (Linux), Guido Van Rossum (Python), Larry Wall (Python), and Yukihiro Matsumoto (Ruby). Her role, like theirs, is to gently guide the group forward, comfortable in her technical skills as a writer and her ability to lead a group of like minded individuals. She listens to opinions and makes calls based on what the group needs. Hence its amazing longevity and body of passionate devotees.

For me, this has been the place my wife disappeared to every Thursday night. For years she did not want me to be there, because she was afraid my presence would disrupt her ability to manage the group. By the time she had the skill and confidence to run the group with me present, I had found my own things to do (specifically martial arts) on Thursday nights. So even after many years and hundreds of CVS sessions, I had never actually been to a single session.

Last night that changed. I went to CVS after I got done teaching a class.

To get there I rode the metro to Clarendon, and walk the 4 blocks to Barnes and Nobles. The night was beautiful, but I was shocked to see the building that house the book store where we met was torn down and in ruins. Alas, life is transient, no?

I found CVS clustered in a circle on the second floor of the Barnes and Nobles. After a bit of fun introducing me to the group, I sat down and watched.

They critiquing someone's interesting horror story. Then discussed the various points of people's plots (known as plot noodling). As someone who until 1996 thought he was meant to be a person writing fiction and to someone familiar with best practices in application design, it came across as a friendly peer review. There was a nice sense of camaraderie, and the quality of what people said was rather distinctive. My wife's gentle hand of dictatorial benevolence was present, and people stayed on focus.

Almost 8 years working with people from all over the region and surviving the worst that creative intelligence could toss at my wife and her group.

Impressive really.

If you are interested in writing, and are in the DC Metropolitan area, check it out at cvswriters.com.

2 comments captured from original post on Blogger

Unknown said on 2008-11-07

Thank you for your comments about CVS. I'm just sorry we had a small group for you to observe. And I do have a wonderful brain trust there--everyone is eager to improve their writing. I'm lucky to have them.

pydanny said on 2009-06-20

It looks like the domain expired. I'll have Jen look into it.

Tags: ex legacy-dannygreenfeld
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