Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Drinker with a Writing Problem

Last night was the annual holiday party of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group, at the Four Dogs Tavern in Marshalton, PA. Our timing was bad -- it had been alternating rain and snow all day. Of our forty-some paid members, only seven braved the weather and showed up.

I had to go; I’m currently the president of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group.

For the party, we’d budgeted about $200 for appetizers (for liability reasons, attendees buy their own drinks). As it happened, the seven of us shared about $100 worth of appetizers. That’s a lot of food, but not a huge amount, since it was upscale, expensive stuff: goat cheese and prosciutto on flatbread, crabmeat tortillas with wasabi sauce, and so on. (I think there were also truffles garnished with larks’ vomit, but I didn’t try any.) To drink, the Four Dogs offers a selection of craft beers. I forget the name of what I quaffed, but it was something like Happytime Stinking-Bastard IPA.

The attendees enjoyed the venue so much that they asked why we were holding our monthly meetings at the West Chester Friends Meeting House. We pay the Friends $500 a year for the use of their facilities, but the Four Dogs will let us meet there on Tuesday nights for free (as long as we gorge ourselves).

That’s a question I’m going to propose to the group at our January meeting. There are drawbacks: Marshalton is not as centrally located as West Chester. And some of our members might be in recovery and unwilling to spend time in a bar.

But that $500 a year rent is our major expense, and it would be good to save it.

Another advantage of meeting at the Four Dogs is avoiding censorship (even if it’s self-censorship). We’re always careful of what we say inside a Quaker Meeting House.

This is also true at our other venue, The Chester County Book and Music Company, where we do our public readings. Unfortunately, the area set aside for authors to read is inside the children’s book section. Even though our readings at the bookstore start at 7 pm, it’s amazing how many kids are still around that late.

I recall one of our members, Scott Pruden, reading from his novel in the children’s section. Shortly after a line that went something like, “A white woman be serious when she show you her titty,” I heard a child’s voice behind a bookshelf going “Mommmm!”

So it would be good to have a place to meet and read our work without risk of offending anyone. But I will let the group discuss it, before I make a Presidential decision on our 2009 venue.

Oh, the title of this blog entry is from the Irish writer Brendan Behan (1923-1964), who sometimes described himself as “a drinker with a writing problem.” He also said he drank only on two occasions: when he was thirsty, and when he wasn’t.

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