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Andrea Langworthy's column: Brain trust

As you pulled this newspaper from your mail box this afternoon or bought a copy at the grocery store, I was at home, getting ready for a meeting of the minds. MasterMinds, that is. Three women who had been in a writing group with me for a number of years would soon be at my house for dinner.

I met one of these women in a writing class at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. A couple of years later, she was in a freelance writing class I took. So was one of the others. We decided to form a group dedicated to motivating us to do more writing. Better writing.

Another writer joined us. We decided to make it a MasterMind group, an idea espoused by Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich."

The first time I saw that book, I was almost 11 years old. My father had just graduated from law school and a friend of his gave him the book as a gift. Tucked inside was a mink bookmark.

Before our first meeting, I found some information that described what constitutes a successful group and emailed it to the others. According to an article I read about him, Hill says a MasterMind group is, "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony."

Hill is also quoted as saying, "No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind."

Our group's goal was to meet once a month for lunch in the coffee shop of the Loft. At the first meeting, we talked about long-term aspirations. Then, one-by-one, we laid out what we hoped to accomplish in the upcoming four weeks. Every time we met, we shared what we had worked on since our last get-together. Spoke of our objectives for the next month.

The atmosphere was positive, encouraging and supportive. Harmonious and purposeful, in the spirit of Napoleon Hill. No one ever had a finger pointed at them because their aim fell short. Instead, we brainstormed; coming up with ideas on how that person might succeed.

At every meeting, I took notes in a spiral-bound notebook. Places to submit my work. The name of an editor someone suggested for a piece I was working on. Usually, my head was spinning with possibilities for the weeks ahead.

During the time we were together, I asked for, and was given, a monthly column for a local senior publication, wrote some pieces for Minnesota magazines and a Saint Paul anthology, taught a workshop at the Loft. All because these women gave me just the prodding I needed.

There wasn't an official disbanding of the group. We just stopped meeting. Part of it was my fault. A fifth woman, one I brought into the group, passed away three years ago. I was devastated. It was all I could do to get out of bed and write this column every week. Returning to the Loft, where she and I had been in three writing groups over the years, where we had taken classes together, was beyond me.

But soon, perhaps as you read this column, the others and I will be gathered around my table. We'll have some dinner. A bit of wine. Key lime pie. Share family news, memories and, of course, talk about our writing. I hope they're all wearing sturdy boots. I've gotten lazy and could use some good old-fashioned kicks in the keister.