Learn how to use email before talking about someone behind their back

I know I’ve been tagged by Running42K – yay! blogger fodder! – but I had to share this first.

I might have mentioned there’s a woman, B., from my writing class who wanted to start a writing group after class ended. She asked me and another individual to join. I was all for it – till the other individual decided not to do it. Then I did too since it wasn’t so much a group anymore, and, to be honest, the other individual is a really good writer and B., well, isn’t. Still, I said maybe I’d join again if we could find some more people.

So now there are two of them, both from class. B. invited me to join their next meeting. I said yes, then about a week before decided I didn’t have enough time. I was going on vacation and then away again the following week. Lame of me? Probably.

Why have I been so reluctant?

1) I don’t think B. or the other woman, L., are that great writers. Sometimes they gave okay feedback, but those were one or two nuggets in an hour-long workshop session involving several other people, including the teacher, a pro.

2) They insist on meeting in Brooklyn. Not Williamsburg, which is two stops from Union Square, but another area, which would take me an hour to get to. An HOUR. And two subways.

Recently they asked me a third time to join. This time I decided to be honest. I said I’d like to, but could we meet in Manhattan instead. It would be very difficult for me to get to that part of Brooklyn by 6 PM on a work day, and then would take me even longer to get back home (next day was a work day too). I also offered to provide comments via email if Manhattan was a no go.

Shortly after my message, I got the following from L:

B. —

Here’s Anna May’s reply. As usual, the distance from Manhattan to Brooklyn is far longer than the distance from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Or: two Brooklynites are worth one Manhattanite? I’m so tired of it!

What she asks isn’t, in my opinion, reasonable. We could offer to change the time, and to drive her to where she can pick up the 4,5 afterwards. Depending on where she works, it might not be hard to get to where you think we could eat.

But I fear she will, in the grand tradition, decline. Oh well.

Let me know what you think.


Obviously she sent the message to me by mistake. Hello, basic email skills? And double hello, you asked me to join your group. YOU asked ME. I didn’t say, “Hey, I want to have a writing group, schlep to the Upper East Side from Brooklyn!” I didn’t say, “Please, please, please, can I join your writing group?” No, I passive aggressively declined twice.

Sure, I should be more honest and up front. But they could also buy a clue. PLUS, I offered up my feedback via email. That entails reading 20 some odd pages – sometimes twice – and providing extensive comments and, in my case, edits because I can’t help it. That’s a lot in my book.

Like I’m really going to want to join their group now.

I didn’t respond right away, and didn’t even know if I should. I asked YP for advice and he kindly crafted the following:

L. —

I’m terribly sorry if my request offended you. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that those who live in Manhattan are in any way better than those who live in Brooklyn. Your email has made me realize that my request was, in fact, unreasonable, as was my hope to be able to fit this into my schedule.

Best of luck to the both of you and, again, thank you for thinking of me.

Anna May


She wrote back apologizing profusely and saying it wasn’t personal but a general gripe about Manhattanites not wanting to come to Brooklyn, and then asked me AGAIN to join, and also that they were thinking of forming a bigger group in the fall.

I haven’t written back yet. I guess I could respond, No hard feeling but no thanks, citing scheduling issues and also the fact that I’ll most likely be taking a class in the fall. Haven’t decided yet.

I find it all more hilarious than upsetting.

As for the freelance journalist, we successfully set up a meeting time for Monday. In that case, I don’t mind heading down to her ‘hood since I’m aware that she’s doing me a favor. Some other people should take a lesson from that.


  1. They want your skills baby.

  2. i guess! you’d think they’d be a little more accomodating, or at least take me up on my offer to give feedback online.

  3. wow, what a smooth response YP helped you write there!!

  4. i think, in the grand tradition, you should decline once more.

  5. mini: yep, YP is the man!

    jay bee: totally! i was nice and wrote back saying no problem, it wasn’t personal, but in the fall i’d most likely be taking a class.