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I’m hunting for a writing group. I’ve been advised to do this by many people, and now I’ve been semi-forced into it by WHAM (Whole Health Action Management). For those who didn’t click the link, this is a group I help run which meets for two months and has you choose a goal in the middle which you then pursue with peer support. It works pretty well–you’d be surprised what having to report on your new good habit will do for keeping it going. In the past, I joined a gym, made some progress on the meditation issue (which we’ll address here some other time), and now it’s time to enlarge my social circle. Aieeee!

So I went to Meetup, found a likely group that didn’t sound too scary, admitted my desire to commune with other sufferers and confessed my fetish for Victorian and genre novels. And now the moderator has to see. Oh dear. As if sending out query letters wasn’t bad enough.

That’s not going too well, either. One of the few people decent enough to get back to me at least cared enough to have his form letter say that he found my query interesting, but was overwhelmed with work at the time. SO much nicer than the standard refusal, which intimates that surely somebody somewhere will like your piece of dreck, but not them, no sirree Bob!

Well, we shall see on both counts. Meanwhile, I have been triggered into the dilemma of Wanting People to Like Me. I thought I was over that. In my salad days, I was a sex & drugs bimbo, seeking approval through suitable application of my ample cleavage. Bless the few people who saw past my people-pleasing facade and realized I was smart and funny too. Nowadays the whole mechanics have changed, and smart and funny’s all I’ve got: My cleavage is still ample, but even if I could tuck in selfies with my QLs, it would rather count against me.

“Smart and funny” is an almost infinitely harder job than “high and easy.” Smart requires treating my brain well, and being careful what I program it with. Funny chiefly requires NOT saying half the stuff that comes into my head, and this I owe to the beautiful Angie M. back in high school.

She was a senior, I was a freshman, and I had a massive schoolgirl crush on her, which she was kind about. And one day in Drama Club, after I’d called out something that the recipient took in the wrong way (which, hindsight admits, was the only way possible), Angie hauled me aside, sat me at her feet and said, “Look, Honey.” (I was in my mid-twenties before ditching this nickname, although some of my best friends are grandfathered in.) “You and I are Scorpios, and a lot of the time we think something is funny–but it’s not funny at all to other people.” Ah, puppy love. If only this 17-year-old mentress could have kept re-programming my brain for years: I heard her, and I never forgot it. I apologized to the girl I offended (who got over it in, oh, about two years) and have tried to watch my mouth ever since.

I can’t tell you how much of Max I’ve deleted because my beta reader pointed out that I would possibly offend somebody. Sigh. And this is important, because I want people to like my book. To like . . . me.

Part of me sheeping HATES THAT, but it is how it is.