December 12, 2013

In Praise of Writing Communitiesas

Guest Blogger: Ellen Meeropol

I’ve been thinking about how we writers spend our time. When we’re not writing, that is. Of course, there are all the regular things that people do: jobs and raising families and taking care of elderly parents and taking pets to the vet and mowing the lawn and deleting spam from the inbox and cooking dinner.

But what about the small amount of “free time,” time that isn’t spent writing or reading or keeping lives together? What about the time we give to our writing communities?

It may not be immediately clear why writing communities are important. Many of us hold an iconic image of the writer isolated in her garret, creating lyrical sentences out of loneliness and sorrow. Of course, most of us in western Massachusetts don’t write in garrets, or in total isolation. Some of us generate new work with others in living rooms and libraries, some of us meet with manuscript critique groups to collectively improve our work, some gather at Writers Night Out on the first Tuesday of the month to socialize, read our work, listen to each other. For the last 26 years, many of us have gathered every autumn for a day of inspiration and craft panels at WriteAngles. And now we have the literary salons and craft programs sponsored by Straw Dog Writers Guild. All of these activities bring us together; they enrich our writing and our selves.

But literary events like these don’t spontaneously appear. WriteAngles and Writers Night Out and the Writers Room and Straw Dog programs take ongoing planning, all accomplished by volunteers.

OK, I admit that each January when the first planning meeting for WriteAngles is called, I briefly contemplate not participating. Before every monthly Straw Dog working group meeting, I sigh and think about all the additional hours I could have to write if I didn’t attend meetings. But I do attend, and I take on a task or two, one of a dozen or so people to volunteer.

And then, after the salon discussion, the craft program, the annual conference, I walk around smiling, grateful for the profound feeling of satisfaction of being part of a group of volunteers who create activities to celebrate and advance our writing community.

If you’re not already doing so, I invite you to join us.

as Guest Blogger and Founding Member, Ellen Meeropol  www.ellenmeeropol.comellen

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