Ask Amy: One talkative member ruins writers’ group meetings


Dear Amy: I attend a wonderful writers’ group with six people at our library. Our problem is that one individual is hijacking the meetings by interrupting and talking so much that she dominates the entire time we have together.

None of us get a chance to ask for feedback on our writing or to ask questions or contribute to the session. I did take her aside a few years ago and as gently as possible asked if she could kindly allow all of us to participate, and hold off talking so much as we all had valuable words to share. Her behavior never changed, and one by one members (including me) stopped going.

Can you dig up some thoughts as to how to fix this situation? She seems to have some sort of a problem sharing airspace. I’m ready to shout: “Will you please just shut up?!”

Writer: From your narrative, it sounds as if this writers’ group has more or less disintegrated because of this overwhelming member’s dominance. Writers’ groups are not like book groups, where participants engage in freewheeling discussions on a particular work. Writers’ groups exist as a helpful platform for writers to read from their own work and receive constructive feedback from the other members.

For a group of six people, each person would bring something of their own to share at each session, taking turns reading and receiving feedback. My point is that it’s not a writers’ group if only one person is sharing and talking — that’s a TED Talk.

My suggestion is the most obvious one: Start your own guerrilla group. Cap the membership at six people who agree to the guidelines, meet at someone’s home and run the meeting yourself.

Dear Amy: We had a party tonight. It’s not easy to throw parties — from planning, setting up the house, buying and preparing food, etc. First, I would like to remind folks that it’s common courtesy to respond. There were eight people who didn’t even RSVP. Second, out of 35 people who responded yes, two canceled the night before, two canceled two minutes before the party started, and six were no-shows. Shame on them.

We did have a great time, loved the people who attended, and made some great memories; however, the leftover food is a waste and the inconsiderate “friends” left us feeling embarrassed and sad. Are people really that selfish and clueless? What do we say to these people the next time we see them?

— Done Entertaining in Denver

Done: Yes, it is common courtesy to respond to an invitation. And yes, common courtesy isn’t all that common.

Hosts should anticipate and be prepared for some last-minute cancellations; our increased awareness of the transmission of viruses makes people who are not feeling well (or who are around those who don’t feel well) hesitant to attend crowded gatherings. It is common courtesy not to expose others to illness.

Technology has enabled hosts to easily invite and keep track of their guest lists. If you use an Evite, you can also remind guests the week of the party, offer last-minute directions to the venue, and “nudge” those who haven’t responded to your invitation to please get back to you. Otherwise, you can do what many beleaguered hosts do, which is to call those who haven’t responded and ask them if they’ll be able to make it.

In terms of what to say to people who have ignored your invitation, it’s not necessary to bring it up (unless you want to). You could choose to leave them off the list for your next party — and I hope there will be a next party.

Dear Amy: Long-Term Care Happens” responded to a grandchild’s request for an early inheritance. The writer’s parents spent a total of 72 months in care facilities at a cost of $10,000 per month. This pretty much exhausted their heirs’ inheritance.

About half of the states have filial responsibility laws. In the event that people rely on the state for their care, those states can seek reimbursement from the children. My wife and I are in our 70s with a significant amount set aside for our care.

Hopefully this will be enough to shelter our children from any of our long-term care expenses. Anything that is left over will be their inheritance.

Never Know: The expense for quality long-term care (my family has experienced the same) is a true indictment of our health care system.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.