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When I first moved back to Vermont I wanted to join a writing group. I had very recently decided I wasn’t getting anywhere as an aspiring writer or even a writer, so I took the leap and began calling myself a Writer. I wanted the support of others as I tried on this new persona, but that proved a challenge.
I know from personal experience writing can be an extremely personal and emotional, and often frustrating, experience. As the quote credited to Red Smith, Gene Fowler, Thomas Wolfe, and others goes, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”
Although many crave the company and support of others in their blood-letting, when it comes down to it, many stay under cover not wanting to expose their emotional nakedness to the world (guilty as charged).
And as Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, pointed out, and I have certainly seen in with my own students, writing is one of the few enterprises where practice is not considered a requisite. Perfectionism runs rampant. Many believe that if they have the will, they should instantly have the way; if their work is not immediately applauded as Pulitzer material they must not be a “real writer.” And so, they hide their words (or never begin at all). Critique groups can feel like “criticism” groups.
BUT attend any of the number of writers’ conferences held around the state or look at the membership of the Vermont League of Writers (currently over 200 according to their website) and my theory seems to be completely debunked. This state is swarming with out-the-closet writers! So where are Rutland’s?
Writers, Aspiring and Otherwise, writing is a gift you give to yourself and others. It is a way to connect to your memories, your emotions, and even your body (and it has been proven to have health benefits!). It is an incredible way to de-stress and build self-confidence.
Interacting with others is not only a gift, but a human necessity; to share stories and learn that connecting every unique story is a common human thread. To mis-quote C.S. Lewis: We write to know we are not alone. Writing groups are a source of connection on many levels. Writing and then sharing your words strengthens your voice twice over.
If you host a group or are hoping to start one, please let me know. If you are looking for a group, here are a few options:
CHAFFEE ART CENTER, RUTLAND
Writing as an Art Form: Fridays; 11AM-1PM at Chaffee Art Center, 16 South Main Street, Rutland, VT. 802.775.0356. chaffeeartcenter.org
Share prepared writing with a changing dynamic of people (core group of 8-10) where “really wonderful conversations [are] sparked by the readings each week.” By donation to the Chaffee.
HORACE GREELEY FOUNDATION, POULTNEY
Writers’ Guild Meeting: Wednesday, February 6; 7:00PM. Poultney Library, Main Street, Poultney, VT. thegreeleyfoundation.org. Call David Mook for information: 802.884.8052
A component of the mission of the Horace Greeley Foundation, this irregularly scheduled group is free, informal, and facilitated by published authors. A well-attended conference is held each October.
THE WRITERS’ ROOM AT ALLEN HOUSE, RUTLAND
full article originally published at www.rutlandreader.com
Workshops offered in Rutland, Vermont at The Writers' Room at Allen House. "Re-INK your life!" Coaching available in person or via email. Also available for trainings and guest speaking. Visit my Blog, Wisdom Within, Ink for thoughts on writing to an authentic life.