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Friday, April 24, 2015

May the road rise to meet you.

My good friend, and the mastermind behind the Writers’ Group that has served as such an amazing support and inspiration, is moving away soon. We went to school together in our adolescence, and over the years we’ve been through various levels of closeness, but against all odds, we never lost each other.

Over the last year or so, she’s attended the group less and less as life has become more and more stressful for her. That has meant that we’ve seen each other a lot less frequently. I’m sad—truly—that she’s moving away. It seems so permanent. But I try to keep in mind the fact that though we only attended school together for one year back in 1996, we’ve remained friends for almost twenty years (what the fuck twenty years?! how in ze hell). Though distance may have strained, miles cannot break our bonds of affection. We will meet again. And I’m thrilled for her, that she has found a person who she judges to be worthy of her love. She’s quick to tell me that she wouldn’t move just for a guy, and I believe her—she has some great opportunities where she’s going. But I know that he’s the catalyst to this move, and I know that my friend is anything but indiscriminate in her affections. If she’s willing to uproot herself and her daughter, he must be something special.

So, my friend, my soul-sister, I will miss you. Deeply. May you find all the happiness you seek.

In her absence, I do worry a little about the fate of the Writers’ Group. She hasn’t been attending, true, but somewhere in my mind I still think of it as her group, and I miss her when she’s not there. On top of that, some of the more regular attendees have sorta stopped writing. I wouldn’t presume to judge that—to write or not to write (and to share or not to share) is each person’s decision and many things contribute to it. But...

As I near the end of my second draft, I know I’m going to be taking some time off writing afterwards to, well, get a breather, put things in perspective, and let it all sorta steep. Branden’s finishing his story in not too long here. Rachel has been writing shorts for our amusement, but sometimes she goes months without anything to share. And Becky is going to be finishing her story in the not-too-distant future, and I don’t know what she’s going to want to do at that point.

I love all these people, and without their creative influences in my life, I feel like a part of me would shrivel and die. Several of our members opt to not attend if they didn’t read everything and don’t have anything to share. If enough people do that, the group will have zero members. Every time someone comes who maybe wasn’t planning to, they always say what a positive thing it is and how happy they came even though they didn’t feel like they had much to give. I wish everyone could remember that feeling, the level of support we give each other.

It’s hard to share your creative work, and a lot of writers’ groups fail because the attitude is more competitive. If I didn’t have my girls (which is what I call them, Branden notwithstanding), I think I’d stop writing completely. Let alone trying to get anything published. It’s discouraging when no one cares to read what you write, to give feedback, to validate... and having beta readers is an essential part of writing.

I’m pretty sure it’s my insecurities talking here, but some of my group seems to have a boundless energy and confidence when it comes to writing. To them, writing is an imperative; they would do it whether anyone was reading or not. They deign to scatter their pages before me, like rose petals before the queen (in this metaphor, they are the queen, not I). I scramble to pick them up and consume them, and my feedback, such as it is, amuses them. Maybe for my girls, writing would happen whether we were here or not. But it probably wouldn’t happen for me.

And it’s weird, coming to that realization in this moment. My creativity never hinged on having an audience before. On the other hand, I would only be sporadically creative before. I absolutely wouldn’t trade it.

Word count: 45,383 (녇)

1 comment:

Becky Munyon said...

Group members should stop moving away.

I've spent my whole life wanting to write, but always being afraid too. So I spent many years making excuses not to. Once I finally gave in and started at the age of 30, I haven't stopped since, and I don't plan to. After I finish this draft, I'll write the second and hopefully final draft. Then I'll write book two in my vampire novel. Then I'll write my next mystery novel involving a traumatized soldier, a ghost, an abused girl, and an uptight lawyer. Then I may write a spinoff book about Frankie's mom, cause she suddenly became awesome.
So, I plan to keep writing, and as long as people keep showing up at group, I will also show up, even if it's only a couple other people, though I miss when there were lots of us.

I also wish people would feel more comfortable coming if they haven't read everything. It's okay if one did not have the time to catch up on the reading. I've noticed that even when someone hasn't read something, they've still tended to have good feedback on general knowledge questions.