Today I am driving to a neighboring county to talk to a group of people who want to form a writers’ club. I was asked because some 25 years ago I started such a club in my county and it is still going strong. It is my “baby” and I’m proud of it. I guess it could be said that this is my only claim to fame.
It came about when I first began writing. Short stories, poems, essays–in short, experimenting with the craft, trying to find a fit. I saw an ad for a week-long writers residency at Duke University. Now, I hadn’t left home and family and stayed in a dormitory for some 30 years. But my kids were grown, the youngest at the Science and Math School in Durham. There was nothing stopping me except my own timidity.
I decided to put on my big girl panties and go. I took a week off from work, packed up my suitcase, stuffed my work-in-progress in a tote bag, and left home.
It was an exhilarating experience. And the lesson I learned what that writers need each other. To critique, to commiserate, to celebrate, to be there for and with you through all the ups and downs of the writing life. Yes, you have siblings, and friends, and husbands (or wives), but there is no one else who totally “gets” you like another writer.
So I put a small advertisement in the local paper to see if there was any interest in forming a writers’ group in my town. I wasn’t sure anyone would come. They did, and we quickly decided on a purpose and drew up a charter. Some original members are still coming . Some have moved away, but stay in touch. And some are new, looking for kindred spirits much as I was looking all those years ago.
I count our meetings as one of the highlights of the month. As I go out the door, my husband always says “Have fun!” and I reply “I will!” because I know I will be among friends who won’t turn me in when I say I murdered someone last night. They’ll just ask in which chapter the deed occurred.
I hope this group decides to go ahead. It might be the best thing some of them have ever done.