Friday, March 04, 2011

Finding a Community

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.” - Henrik Ibsen quotes (Major Norwegian playwright of the late 19th century, 1828-1906)


When I teach, students ask about writing groups. I invite them to stay after the class if they are interested in forming one. Invariably a few folks hang out afterward to swap information and get something started. One of the groups that formed after one of my classes has been writing together for at least five years.

I first joined a writing group the day after I arrived back in Columbus from my first Natalie Goldberg writing workshop in Taos, New Mexico. I walked into Stauf's coffeehouse, a place I'd written nearly every day for months, and spotted two women I hadn't seen before sitting at a table. One woman listened intently as the other read aloud from a spiral notebook. On the floor beneath one of the chairs sat Natalie Goldberg's first book, Writing Down the Bones. I waited until they were done reading to each other, introduced myself, and asked if they were doing writing practice. They were. I told them I'd just returned from Taos and one of Natalie's workshops and they invited me to join them. The three of us wrote together for a year and a half until I moved to New Mexico to work with Natalie.

This experience proved to me, if you're open to forming a writing group, the opportunity will appear. When I moved to New Mexico, I was more assertive. I posted a flyer at coffeehouses and the library. I was very specific telling prospective members what kind of group it would be and when it would meet. The flyer read, "Writer seeks other writers to do Natalie Goldberg style writing practice weekday hours." Over the next few months, six people responded and we formed a group that met for nearly three years. Many of us are still in touch.

There is also a list of more than thirty central Ohio writing groups on my website at http://www.nitasweeney.com/newsletter/ongoing-writing-groups/

If you're looking for a group of writers to share the journey, it's out there. You might have to create it, but other folks want to be found. They're just waiting for you to get it started.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so, how did it start?