writer’s group

The virtues of a group

Four years ago some of my friends and I started a writer’s group. We met every week and shared samples of our writing. We’d offer feedback and encouragement. It was one of the highlights of my week.

There’s something that happens when you share something as personal as your rough drafts. You’re basically saying, “this is the best I can do for the moment. Please be gentle. Please don’t hate it (me).” And in this process of sharing we became really close.

Writing can be lonely and isolating. One of the reasons I like blogging is that I get instant feedback, and connection (even if it’s just a cyber connection). But my personal writing is, well, personal, and I don’t want to share with the world just yet. That’s why it’s so great to have a writer’s group that you trust and respect that will help you coax your writing out of the laptop.

The four of us have been through 2 weddings (soon to be 3). A birth, a break up, firings, hirings, 6 new apartments, and all the other ups and downs of life. We set up our own writer’s retreat. We send each other articles when we think it’s applicable to our writing. We notify each other of grants and great opportunities. We recommend and share books.

Having a common passion for literature brought us together and made us better friends. I’m so glad Sojourner, Stacey, and Kelley are in my life. Although we haven’t met for a few months (we got side tracked by a wedding and a new baby), I know that I have a community of women who will give me the support and encouragement I need -whether it’s for my writing or for my life.

I hope you all have, or will create, a similar group. It doesn’t have to be writing. I’ve always wanted to join a quilting circle, for instance. At least in New York, it seems like friends always get together to eat or drink. It’s nice to have a different reason to get together- one that nurtures your interests.

I’m still writing

While it may seem that my writing bug has died down, nothing can be further from the truth! Since writing the post Women aren’t that bad, I have been a writing fiend. Nothing motivates you more than righteous frustration! I have been working on my creative writing. More specifically my short story called The Island of Trees, a tale of a superficially ‘enlightened’ woman  confronting actual sacrifice.  I will be sharing the first half of my story with my writer’s group this Saturday. If you are a creative writer I highly recommend starting or joining a writer’s group. We share our writing, as well as our cooking and our favorite books. Not only does it take you out of the isolation of writing, but it motivates you to keep writing because you don’t want to show up empty handed. We’ve been meeting weekly for almost three years, and although we took a break this summer, I’m excited to get back into the regular groove. Here’s an excerpt of The Island of Trees  just to let you in on what I’m working on.

            Alma St. Clair made a point to be ahead of all the latest enlightenment trends. She mastered downward facing dog before Madonna discovered yoga. She was a locavore when green was just a color and not a lifestyle. She didn’t eat tofu – too much estrogen. She didn’t use plastic – too many carcinogens. She didn’t eat uncooked vegetables after sunset – something to do with her Ayurveda constitution. When people asked her what religion she believed in she smiled as if she heard something amusing and said, “I don’t believe in organized religions, but I’m very spiritual.” Her favorite i-phone app was the one that sent her a new Hindu deity everyday with a little description. She loved to slip those long complicated names into her conversations, regardless of whether or not she was pronouncing them right, or remembered their traits correctly. It’s not like her friends knew any better. They would simply say, “Oh, Alma, how do you know so much?” She would chuckle and reply with, “Well as Gandhi said, ‘A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.’” No one ever told her that that was Shakespeare and not Gandhi, but who’s keeping track?