Writing in Community: Or, How I Ended Up with Enough Poems to Publish a Chapbook

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 stripย 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.

And get published.

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!
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6 comments on “Writing in Community: Or, How I Ended Up with Enough Poems to Publish a Chapbook

  1. I’m so glad to be in good company. ๐Ÿ™‚ Having a community is essential. Congratulations on having a complete collection of poetry. I’m anxious to read it!

    And thanks for mentioning my blog. That makes me smile.

  2. Jen B says:

    Your article made me smile. Our group has been such an encouragement for me, too. I am grateful for us Odd Ducks.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. stephen says:

    Well, I don’t know the other individuals in your group, but you certainly fit the bill (pun) of Odd Duck. ๐Ÿ™‚ I too am glad you have a community of people who bring you back to what you are called to do. You certainly are called to be a writer and are rather gifted.

    • elizabeth says:

      Nice pun. I actually hadn’t noticed, so I appreciate that you pointed it out. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m the youngest in the group and our age spans more than three decades, so it’s quite a conglomeration of life experience. I learn so much from these women!

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