Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not A Joiner


I am not a joiner. How many groups of any kind have you experienced that had a clear purpose, drew the best possible ideas from participants, then generated positive, effective results? Mmm hmm. A friend once said if you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you’re not. I measured myself by that. Either I produced words on a page, or I didn’t. I made a career out of writing speeches, bylined articles, anything anyone needed, and wrote fiction when I found time. Now and then.

Yet when a writers’ group sponsored a presentation at the local library several years ago, I scraped up the courage to call the woman whose number was listed on the bottom of the flyer. No, I can’t attend the presentation. But, do you, by any wild chance, have room in your group? I found “maybe” exciting. Gulp. Why?

First, I was never interested in talking about the writing I wanted to do. I wanted feedback on writing I had done. And only recently had I generated fiction my crabby internal editor found worthwhile. Not mere individual scenes, but scenes that followed one from the other. Was the pacing any good? I had characters that demanded my time and attention. Would anyone else find them interesting? And I had a storyline. An actual beginning, middle and end! At last I had something tangible on which I was ready to receive input, and professional writing and editing experience to offer in exchange.

Also, silly as it may be, the contact on the flyer was a woman. I wanted at least one other woman in a writers’ group, and there was her name as proof of her existence. When she called back, it turned out the group was all women: six to eight in a range of ages, a range of backgrounds, all with some measure of writing experience. And they would be pleased to meet me!

Fast forward. Of all the writers who welcomed me and my eight pristine copies of text that first night, Amy is still across the table. Lisa joined during the evolution of that group, which then devolved, shifted, all but died and, at the same time we met Lynne, rose from the ashes. This foursome has chugged along – sometimes dashed along – ever since, and we have analyzed the heck out of Why in many conversations. Thus, we come to Amy’s inspiration to start a blog and share what works for us, in the hope you will find what sounds right for you. The bottom line for non-joiners: yes, do the writing and be a writer. Then find or create a group that works. You will treasure every second.