Ellen's idea was that the novel writers of the group could come together once a month (as the crit group does, but not on the same day, obviously) and talk about their novels and novel writing in general. We would meet for brunch, get inspired and all go home early in the afternoon to write lots. Ellen's vision has largely come about, except the bit about all going home early to write lots, and that's because we tend to hang around for most of the afternoon. Sometimes lots of writing-based discussion takes place and sometimes not so much -- largely because we're all friends now as well, but there's always some at least.
Some members attend both the crit group and the novel group, and others (like me) just attend the one, whichever best serves their interest. Mostly, but not always, the novel group tends to be women.
I tend to come and go a bit. Like another of our members, I have children I'm often ferrying around, so sometimes I have to come late or leave early or can't make it at all. But I hate missing it. It's become dynamic and fun and inspiring, everything Ellen thought it could be. Last Saturday was a particularly good meeting, very much writing focused.
And then as if it wasn't a great enough day, Ellen commented that she was going off on a writing retreat for three days and, to cut a long story short, two of us decided we could go for part of the time, and so I went off in late afternoon to pack for an impromptu writer's retreat (even if I did have to spend one day on class prep!). It all sounds too easy, but there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing while I checked that this was okay with my husband. Still, he's pretty cool about such things and let me go, so that was all fine.
The scary part for me was realising that most of the writing I did last year was while on retreats. I had realised how much my work commitments, and the increased time fraction I'd worked last year, were encroaching on my writing time and have cut back on work, so this is my year for my balance, to keep things chugging along. And when they are chugging along, I'm not spending a day of each retreat re-immersing myself in the world of the novel, but instead can hit the keyboard flying!