Tuesday, October 21

The Fellowship of Other Writers



Writing is a very solitary business. Well, that is, if you’re doing it right. The stories come from inside your head, the characters from your imagination, and the words from your heart, so it is, by its very nature, a job you do alone. I know all about working alone because my day job is being a freelance copyeditor—another very solitary career. I’ve always been a writer, ever since I could hold a pencil and spell, but when I began writing with purpose again several years ago, I believed my years as a freelancer meant I didn’t have to learn how to work by myself.

I confess, I take undue pride in my discipline as a freelance editor. When people have ask, “How do you ever get anything done working at home?” I simply smile serenely and reply, “You just do it. You have to because they’re paying you.” I am a very disciplined editor—okay, I’ll admit there are days when the laundry or the weeding or the ironing seem much more fascinating, but mostly, I sit down at my computer in the morning and work until noon. After a lunch break, I go back to work until supper and sometimes, if deadlines are tight, I go back to work until bedtime. It’s okay. It’s been my life for over 25 years.

But you know what? Writing is different. You do invent the stories by yourself, but you need to go to a well of creativity every so often to fill your cup. That well for me is the fellowship of my local Romance Writers of America chapter. The writers there range from multipublished authors to beginning writers, but unfailingly, their enthusiasm is contagious. The meetings are topical, and the members are interesting, supportive, and friendly. I may go into the meeting weighed down by a story that just won’t come together, but when I leave, I’m filled with a renewed sense of purpose, a new drive. Even better, close friends have come from being a part of a writers group. I can’t imagine my writing life without the good friends I’ve made there, and I know that I can call on them any time for advice, support, or even commiseration if that’s what needed.

Our chapter has a writers retreat every fall. To be honest, I avoided that weekend the first couple of years I was a member because I was too intimidated by the success of the authors in the group. But two years ago, I sucked it up and signed up for the event. What a wonderful, welcoming experience! The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. We all bring along our works-in-progress, as well as whatever authorial issues are bogging us down at that point in time. The fellowship is amazing as we all talk writing and editing and creativity. We write, we talk, we nap, we hike, we write, we eat (oh, dear lord, how we eat!), and then we talk some more. Evenings around the big stone fireplace become a time for catharsis and confession because we’re all secure in the knowledge that what happens at Retreat and what’s said at Retreat stays at Retreat. It is a glorious weekend!

Writers need the fellowship of other writers—it’s as necessary as dictionaries, research, and our thesauruses (thesaurusi?). The camaraderie is unlike any other friendship because we share that longing to be storytellers, that need to be storytellers. That’s one reason I’m so pleased to be part of Word Wranglers. I know I shall find new and special writer friends here as I settle into being a part of this world. I can’t imagine my life without my writerly pals, can you?

7 comments:

  1. I remember the very first meeting of writers I went to. I could hardly bear to leave! Sometimes it's still the same way. Looking forward to retreat!

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    1. Retreat is such a blast, Liz! I can't wait!!

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  2. I was incredibly intimidated at my first RWA meeting ... and the people were so welcoming and encouraging. My local chapter is an hour away, and I don't get to meetings as often as I'd like, but every time I go I'm uplifted and encouraged and excited all over again.

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    1. So was I, Kristina! I realized almost immediately how little I knew about writing even though I'd been writing my whole life. But like you, the people were warm and welcoming. I don't get to every meeting because life often gets in the way, but when I go, it's grand!

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  3. I've never gone to a RWA meeting. I know they have a big chapter in Portland and I guess I've thought it might be intimidating. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and try it out. Something to think about.

    While I volunteer and attend the Willamette Writer's Conference every year, I've never gone to any of their monthly meetings either. I used to work so much at night, it was hard to fit it in. Plus, I hate driving in Portland at night. Or day. Or really anytime I don't absolutely have to.

    Good post, Nan. Food for thought.

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  4. Thanks, Margie! It's not always easy to make the RWA meetings, but even just having lunch with another writer or grabbing a couple of writer friends and going for coffee is great too. This forum is a good thing--fellowship can be online too!

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  5. Ah, so true Nan! We writers need to bring others around us who understand our burning desire to share our stories, to be heard, to feel accepted for who we are and how we think. My goal in 2015 is to take the plunge into RWA and our Indiana chapter. Perhaps by next retreat time, I'll be there writing, sharing and hiking with you all. ;-)

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