Writers often want and need isolation in order to work on their project. Even those who like to be surrounded by music while they write need private space in which to create their masterpiece. Painters, sculptors, musicians, and artists of any description need, even crave, solitary time to work productively. Some call this retreat into solitude a “cave”, because it can often feel like a retreat from people, distraction, and reality. Emerging from the self-imposed isolation can feel a little like stepping outside a cave and rejoining the rest of the world. For the artist this is a good thing. Even though we may be very social creatures, writers and other artists are typically solitary by nature. This retreat feels natural and comfortable. Again, this is a good thing, since we happily spend inordinate amounts of time alone.
The key though, as I see it, is balance. In order to be creative about our work, we must also live in the real world. I’m a writer, so I can only speak from my writing perspective, but it’s our experiences of life that allows us to tap into the imagination and write books, both fiction and nonfiction, that we hope will resonate with readers. Even the most fantastical of tales has to be grounded in some form of reality. The characters must possess human characteristics readers can identify with in order to be intrigued enough to make them turn the pages.
So for writers, isolation is good, but so are human interactions and the messy business of life. I live in a small town that’s about forty-five minutes from the nearest larger city. I like that. I like the peace and quiet of my chosen place of residence. I love living in a small town where you know your bank teller, the kid who pumps your gasoline, and the clerk at the local grocery store. What had become more apparent over time though, was that I wasn’t getting out and connecting with other writers or artists in my town. Family and friends who aren’t writers can’t truly understand what the writing experience is like, so I tried to find a local writers’ group to join. Oh, there were some in the larger cities, but forty-five minutes one way is still a long way to drive for a meeting.
They say necessity is the mother of all inventions, and I guess it’s true. When I couldn’t locate a local writers group, I was encouraged by a friend to start one. At first I didn’t know if there would be enough writers in the area to form a group, but as I began talking to people, they recommended others. I emailed the few local writers I did know and asked if they’d be interested in joining a writers’ group, and I posted a notice on Facebook to widen my search. I was surprised by how many people started coming out of the wood work. Before I knew it, I had eleven writers who enthusiastically agreed we needed a writers’ group in our town. How exciting!
I love bringing people of similar minds together, and even though only five of the eleven writers were able to attend our first meeting, it was a tremendous success. We shared information about ourselves, our writing, our goals and aspirations, and our stumbling blocks while imbibing tea or wine, and homemade muffins one of the guys brought from his wife. The high of connecting with other writers had me buzzing all the way home. It energized and inspired me on many levels, and listening to the others talk, watching the heads nod in understanding, I knew we were on to a good thing. Before we broke for the evening, we set a date and time for the next meeting and hope to have some of the writers who couldn’t make the first meeting attend the second. So far, so good.
One benefit to forming this kind of gathering is the information sharing. Within days of that meeting, members of the group started sending out emails telling others of local writers’ events, workshops, readings, etc. We suddenly have a community of people who are interested in the same things, and are eager to share information freely. The diversity of the group is also a huge bonus, since it means even though we share a love of literature and writing, we are all coming at it from different angles. Some are poets, some fiction writers, some non-fiction writers, some who are playwrites, and others who write for magazines and other publications. Some are just starting out in their writing journey, while others have gained years of experience, successes, and failures. The key is that we’re all willing to share what we’ve learned, and are open to learning new things. Because I wanted this to be “our” group, not “my” group, I envision it evolving according to the needs of the people involved. More than that though, it’s a place to network and socialize with other writers. It’s a place to come together and share our experiences, have a few laughs, and appreciate other forms of writing.
As we come out of our caves, blinking at the light like little moles, we find ourselves stepping outside ourselves. We listen to other points of view and offer advice, critiques, and support to each other. In turn, we are supported and understood. To my mind, this is a win-win on all counts.
I look forward to getting to know each member of our group better with time, and welcoming new members as we discover them and invite them in. No man, or woman, is an island, and gathering together is an excellent way to remind ourselves of that fact. I don’t know about the others, but my mind is a-whirl with topic ideas and discussion points. Every time I come across a new piece of industry news or information, I want to share it with “The Group”. In the future I’m sure I’ll also be blogging about topics we discuss, areas of concern we face, and so on, so please do stay tuned. Don’t have a group in an area of interest you’d like to share? Start one!
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