Yes, indeed. Joining a writing group, especially an open one, is an invitation to sit with the crazy and marinate for a bit.
As much as I like writing, as much as I want to become a writer myself and better my craft, and as much as I need other people to help me get there I'm thinking writing groups that meet in real life may not be worth it.
I know, I should show, not tell.
Imagine, if you will, me showing up at the library for a meeting that's supposed to start at 11. I'm a bit early because, hey, kids and either early or late and I'd rather be early. A few other people, all men, trickle in. At about quarter past the guy who has organized the meeting hasn't shown, so a couple of us get things started. I'm about the only one who's been to a meeting before and I have a short presentation to give so I kinda take over, at least as much as I ever do. We start introductions, then the leader-guy shows up, but since he's a pretty laid back guy anyway, he lets me continue to be 'in charge.' Because I'm not a really take charge person either it takes like 40 minutes to get through intros for nine people, two of whom might as well be mute. There's one guy in particular who likes to hear his own voice and has a lot to say about the power of language and how it's used to hypnotize and control. Oh goodie.
So, to recap, two hour meeting, the first hour of which is waiting to get started and introducing ourselves. I take five minutes to go through my hand-out on the business end of writing, then we go to reading our stuff.
The first guy reads a couple of pages of his published novel. Published. The next guy (one of the near mutes) passes, then his friend reads a piece of My Little Pony/Dr Who fanfic. It's cute. The next guy--a working writer--passes, but offers to bring in a script next time for us to do a table read. Among his other credits he does rom-coms, which pretty much everyone in the room pans, but he takes it well. I read a couple of pages of my first chapter, which gets one comment before everyone else starts talking about books they love.
Then it's 'hypnotize and control's' turn. He prefaces his piece with a lecture on how humans should really be hermaphroditic and how wrong it is that we murder hermaphrodites with gender reassignment surgeries. His piece is a poem titled something like 'Hermaphrodite honeymoon' and is about a hermaphrodite having sex with itself (never mind the biological impossibility of such an act).
Once he's done with that he immediately launches into another piece, this one a graphic and expletive-laden depiction of prostitution. I'm uncomfortable with it and unhappy that he's reading two pieces, but it's not my meeting so I don't feel like I can really stop it. After about ten minutes someone else says, "isn't that five minutes? And can we please not use the f-word?"
HnC launches into 5 minutes, so I back up 5 minutes, agreeing that what he's reading is inappropriate. He calls me the 'moral arbiter' for the group and appeals to the leader guy for back up since I've usurped his position. I'm like, the meeting time is over, I have to meed my kids and there are three people who didn't have an opportunity to share anything because HnC monopolized so much time. Then I go.
My writing time is precious. If I'm going to waste it on crap, it'd better be crap I enjoy and with people I like.