It Takes a Village…

Sorry for the delay in this post, folks! I was spending a wonderful weekend with my writer’s group. So I say I’m sorry, but really I’m not because instead of blog stuff, I got to write lots and lots of fiction that I’m feeling really good about. There is something energizing that comes from spending time with other creative-types and investing in one another’s work. So this is going up a few hours late, but it is here like I promised.

Writing is rough stuff. Seriously! It’s hard making up stuff. It’s emotionally draining, mentally strenuous, and sociallyWell, writing in and of itself is not very social… Except it is. No, I can’t carry on a conversation while I write–at least not in a way in which I can do both well–but there is definitely a social side to it.

I have had the privileged of being a part of two groups of writers who have blessed my work in more ways than imaginable. They are my sounding board and one of the biggest sources of encouragement I have for my work. They hold me accountable and provide the push that I need all too often.

The Inklyrks are a group I meet with on a weekly basis during the school year, and then occasionally during the summer. (And yes, that is pronounced “ink lickers.” It is a long story that I’m not really even sure I can tell accurately. It was one of those names that just sort of happened.) We’re a mix high school/college age folk that span many genres from fiction to poetry to songwriting. We focus more on encouragement and group discussion than critique.

The original Inklykrs. Keep these faces in your mind.
You’ll see them again someday as they promote bestsellers!

There was this magical moment shortly after the inception of the group when we had at last read a sample of everyone’s writing and had begun to get to know each other that we began to notice something. This group was magic. It was a wonderful balance of artists and thinkers that had a passion for the written word as well as for one another. The group dynamic was as pretty well close to perfect as one could get.

You see, it takes a village to not only raise a child, but to also write a book. I don’t know what sort of state my novel would be in if it wasn’t for the encouragement of my wonderful writing community. They have held my hand during writer’s block and a hard-drive crash. They have pished at the discouraging advice an editor had given me. They have been cheering me and my characters on from day one and I am so grateful for everyone of them.

There have been so many hours spent sitting in front of the fire, discussing literature, and the challenges of writing. We get excited about books and music and tea. We laugh more than we ought and love every minute of it. These people have become my brothers and sisters through art and each of them is irreplaceable.

In every writing endeavor, there comes a moment when you can no longer cling to your own sanity–mainly because it is no longer there. It is in that moment when you need community the most. Being part of a writer’s group gives you those people to cry out to. They can provide a second pair of eyes, a pat on the back, or maybe a good kick int he pants. As artists, we all need those people that will hold us accountable to the creative task we have been charged with. Writing especially is something we need community for. We need to know as we write in our tortured silence that there are people supporting us on the outside. Sometimes, we just need a good hug when a character dies, or we’ve bled dry on a very personal poem.

If you are just starting out in the writing game or are in it but without community, I give you one resounding piece of advice: FIND YOUR PEOPLE!!!! Attend book groups at your local library, go to a writing conference, look for already existing groups in your area (I don’t advise that for critique groups, but I’ll delve into that at a later date). Get out there and meet some writers! Once you find those people that speak your language, it is incredible the positive effect that can have on your writing. Plus, sometimes it is just fun to have a group of people to geek-out in a bookstore with you.

If you are already in a group, I’d just like to encourage you to thank them. They are your village and they love you as much as you them. They are in your corner and they’re in yours and that is a gift to be treasured.

I was richly blessed this weekend by having time to write, but also people to write with. Twenty-eight hours, seven spent in writing, four spent in bookstores, sixteen pages produced, forty-five hundred words, and countless moments spent with people who play the same note I do. That is why I am grateful for my community. Y’all know who you are and you are very near and dear to my heart!

The Inklykrs over this weekend at bookstore #3

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