Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Community of Writers

Writing is of course a lonely activity. You sit at your desk with silence and solitude your best friends. Closed doors are a treasure and you get settled in, shutting down your phone and disconnecting your internet. You don't want distractions or interruptions, Alone at the keyboard or notebook you let the plots of your novels unwind as you meet new characters who help or hinder your protagonists' goals. Along the way you conjure up stories in the most magical but comprehensible language you can muster and it is a lovely way to spend a few hours a day.


But eventually you need a community of other writers. When I lived in New York I had such a group. Over a period of fifteen plus years we met one Saturday a month to commiserate over wine and good good. We shared what we had been writing and received gentle but honest critiques. We talked about our personal lives and about the challenges of writing and trying to get published. It was a welcome three hours a month for writers who spend so much time alone.

We called the group "Tapestries" because we saw ourselves as seven women intricately woven together in this writing journey. Over the years some members came and went but there were three of us who endured for most, if not all, of those fifteen years. We were lucky because we all had a common commitment to writing and to the group. Our writing ability was fairly equal and finally in the last few years we were each writing a novel. A critique group working on a common genre is easier to navigate and more effective. Lucky too that our personalities meshed well, which isn't always easy with a group of women. We got along so well that finally we created our own writing retreat.

Twice a year we headed to Montauk Point and stayed in the Sea Crest Resort on the Atlantic Ocean in Amagansett. There we experienced the privacy and solitude we needed to write since we were away from family and household errands and chores. There was nothing to do but write and read, and of course eat and drink wine and tea.


Though three of us shared one apartment and we were not totally alone, we were all there to work on whatever novel we were in the process of writing or revising. There is something about that collective energy of a group of people sharing a similar goal with a similar need for silence and time to work. That energy infuses the writer with motivation to do the work that must be done to get a novel written and ready for submitting to agents or editors. And it worked sublimely. Even chilly and windy walks on the beach added to an ambience that enriched our creativity and our writing.

Now that I live in Southern California I don't have a writing group. I am looking for one because I want the support and critique of other writers. But it will never be the same as "Tapestries." There will never be that bond among a group of women with like spirits and like commitment to writing. I miss those gals terribly and wish I could fly back to New York once a month for our meetings. If not that than I would love to fly out twice a year and join them in Amagansett. 

Maybe then I could get this novel finished.