Last night, I went to my monthly writing group meeting. We only had three poems to discuss–one of mine, two of another’s–and only four of us were able to meet due to the public school system starting up last week and causing some chaos in folks’ lives. But we still got together. We drove out to one member’s beautiful house on a lake. We ate pistachios and chocolate covered almonds. We rejoiced in recent writing successes–one has a novel recently published, another will have some of her incredible artwork on display in galleries, and I have a chapbook of poems coming out soon–and praised one member’s amazing poetry, a member who wasn’t even present! And then we got down to business and worked through the poems.
We jokingly call ourselves the “Odd Ducks,” and one of the things I like about the group is that, outside of writing creatively, I’m not sure we’d otherwise be friends. Some of us, yes, but probably not all of us. And yet we’ve been meeting monthly, give or take, for over three years. Three years!
That’s a lot of poems.
In Sunday’s paper, the comic strip Between Friends was subtitled “The Creative Process.” It humorously chronicled the writing life as I have all too often experienced it. When I sit down to write, I first check my e-mail. Maybe check Facebook. Check my blog stats. Go make tea. Check e-mail. Blog. E-mail. Go to the bathroom. Go to the kitchen. E-mail. You get the picture. (You can read the comic by clicking here and then selecting August 12 from the drop-down menu.)
It seems to me that when left to our own devices, it is hard to stay motivated, focused, and determined to do the tasks that lie before us even when they are they are things we love.
Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe I have motivation issues.
Fellow writer and blogger Susie Finkbeiner wrote recently about the importance of having a community of writers surrounding her in order to keep on keepin’ on, as I’m fond of saying. I like when she says she stopped writing at one point because, well, “life happened and my writing paused.”
Life does happen and we stop doing what we love. What we are gifted to do. Even what we are called to do, if you’re someone who thinks in those terms. (I am.)
Life gets in the way, but that’s okay. That’s when we need a community to draw us back in. To say, “You can do this.” Or, “I miss you.” Or, “Have you written anything this month?”
You see, even when I haven’t written anything–like for the last four months–my writing group meetings send me to my old poetry journals, to my notes I’m constantly jotting down for a “someday” poem, to my early drafts that have potential I didn’t see the first time around. And that’s how I find myself with enough poems, after three years, to submit to a publisher.
Because of the Odd Ducks–my community that keeps me writing.
So thanks, friends.
Enough for Today, my chapbook, will be published by Finishing Line Press on Nov 3. Advance orders placed before September 8 will help determine the press run. Order yours today!