I wasn’t in a good mood that Saturday morning. I had agreed to meet with a group of people who came together over MeetUp and wanted to start a science fiction writing group. At first, I had been enthusiastic. Then, as usual, my shyness kicked in, and I didn’t want to go. What if they didn’t like me? What if I didn’t like them? Yes, I am six years old.
To prepare, I decided to print out hard copies of the two manuscripts we had, mine and one other. The other was quite long, about 39 pages single-spaced, about 24,000 words. I had some concerns about the quality (and the formatting didn’t help matters). I started the printer and went it to finish up the dishes—you know, multitasking. Of course, all the pages fell onto the floor. Of course, they weren’t numbered.
I used some bad language.
“Are you sure you even want to go?” Spouse asked.
I painstakingly ordered the pages as close as I could get to in-order without re-reading the entire bloody thing, threw it in a folder with mine, grabbed my purse, and set off. And came back for my phone. And set off. And came back for my camera. And set off.
I stopped at Shutterbug Camera Shop on the way to pick up some prints, only to find that in my rush on Friday, I had clicked the box for 4X4 instead of 4X6 (why would I ever do that?) and now my sweeping-vista landscapes looked stupid. To be fair, the dog pictures benefitted from this mistake. As I drove up Santa Rosa Avenue toward South A Street, I was not in a good mood.
There are parts of Santa Rosa I don’t know at all, and this is one of them. I have been to one to two meetings here, and I did go to the Luther Burbank house a few times. Julliard Park and the area between it and the freeway are a mystery to me, and my memory of it from the old days is filled with words like, “crack house,” and “drug haven” and “gang activity.” Some of that may still be in place, but the South A neighborhood is in the process of inventing itself as an artist colony, with studios, art and photography supplies, coffee houses and restaurants. The group was set to meet at Atlas Coffee.
I thought things might be okay when the dreadlocked guy ahead of me held the door for me and I inhaled the aroma of strong, freshly ground coffee. There was interesting art on the walls, some nice black-and-white work, and intriguing ceramics in nooks and crannies. The barista, a curly-haired guy in his mid-twenties, made me laugh almost immediately. Things were getting better. Just then Erika and Brian, members of the group, came in. I heard Brian call her Erika and introduced myself. “Oh, I liked your work,” she said. Definitely getting better!
Michelle joined us just a few minutes later. She is the organizer and facilitator of the group. I had thought the long piece (no page numbers; did I mention no name on it either?) was hers. It was not. It belonged to someone who would not be with us that day.
There ended up being six of us; Raven, who wants to write hard science fiction but it looking for help with the science; Blanca, a YA fantasist; Erika, who is writing a science fiction novel with aliens; Michelle, who has self-published and writes futuristic societal SF, and Brian, who writes pretty much everything but is looking at an alternate history right now.
The hour went by in fifteen minutes, it seemed. We did discuss conventional manuscript formatting, and Michelle thinks she can post something on the site. The group is widely read, funny, and friendly. Good coffee. Good folks. Lovely day.