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Semi-Retired Hens: In praise of the best writing group

One February morning last year, I shuffled along a snowy Toronto sidewalk, internally freaking out. I was on my way to the very first meeting of my new writing group. My friend Teri had set it up, and while I trusted her, I didn’t know what to expect. Would we all get along? Would I fit in? Would we be able to help each other?

One year later, we have a name (the Semi-Retired Hens), our meetings are longer because of the ~30 minutes of general life chat we naturally fall into first, and – most importantly – we all have stronger works in progress, and a strong bond.

Writing Group

What I love about my writing group

Since my first Hens meeting, I’ve been working on a science-fantasy novel, set on a spaceship 80 years after magic-users had been kicked off Earth. Other members of the group are working on literary fiction novels, and a memoir. We all have very different writing styles, subjects, processes, and needs. But it feels so seamless. We’re able to transition to discussing each WIP easily, and give valuable and insightful commentary.

Even better – I genuinely love what my fellow Hens are producing! When it’s time to read what they send before meetings, I get excited. I know what each person’s style is and what they’re best at, and I look forward to slipping into their world and going where they lead. Going to meetings isn’t scary anymore. Within five minutes of that first meeting, I felt like I’d known them all for a long time. And on the way home, I began to look forward to the next meeting. I still feel anxious sometimes over the quality of my own work, but every writer feels that. I know that they’ll receive what I write with respect, and that every Hens meeting will be fun, no matter how I feel about the strength of my own writing that day.

writing group brunch

The Henniversary

We usually meet at a local coffeeshop, but in honour of our one-year henniversary, Teri hosted us at her home for a lovely brunch on the weekend. We celebrated with delicious food, mimosas, and a cake baked by Lindsay which was decorated with a candle and representations of all of our books! Never before have I been so emotional while looking at a cake. And, because we weren’t at a coffeeshop this time, we were able to have our longest-ever Hens hangout. As usual, it felt like a fraction of the time.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have found the best writing group ever. With their support, respect, and wisdom, my writing has been stronger than it ever has been, and it’s never been so fun. I’m honoured to know them all.

Oh, and because I want everyone to love them as much as I do, here’s where you can find the rest of the Semi-Retired Hens online:

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