Hello, Writerly Women! Two weekends ago, we added to the community we've formed here on the blog. Some of the faces you see in this pic belong to writers whose names you've heard -- GLORIA, CAYLENE, ABIGAIL, SCOTIA. Others are new to the group -- two SARAHS, a JENNY, an AMALIE and a LAUREN. Our retreat at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs was nothing short of amazing --
* one writer came away with a complete outline for her non-fiction book
- * one received a request for a proposal from the on site publisher
- * one is already taking steps to change her living situation to make room for who she is and what she wants to do
- * one discovered her creative self, just for the joy of it
- * still another reported feeling significant for the first time in her life
There's more, but you get the idea, yes? As much as I would like to take credit for inspiring all that wonderfulness, I really can't. Most of it came from the sheer energy of authentic, creative women supporting each other, being transparent about their dreams and opening up about the BOHOs (Big Ol' Hairy Obstacles) we all run into. ALL of us.
THAT is the definition of Creative Community. And it's contagious. Five of the young women you see here have formed a writing group in the Springs and meet monthly -- in addition to a pretty steady stream of communication among them. I can document the difference that has made: the writing of every single one of them has grown ten-fold since last year when they first came together.
As God would have it, four of the retreat ladies were from Pennsylvania and didn't know each other before they came. They are now forming their own creative community, something they've never had before.
If we're going to stay sane in this thing called creative writing, we can't do it alone. We need the tribe. And not just when we're first starting out. . .
I always return home from leading workshops happy and satisfied, but physically depleted. It usually takes me three days just to unpack. Not so this time. When I got home to Tennessee, I had almost as much energy as my 19 month old chocolate lab, which is saying something. Filled with the enthusiasm of those 17 young women writers (the word enthuse does come from the Greek for 'filled with God' -- just sayin'), I was ready for the next thing. I had announced at the retreat that I was going to retire from one-on-one mentoring in July of 2021 -- but in a matter of days after hitting home soil, I was already working with a colleague on providing help for serious non-fiction writers and having in-depth conversations with artists and tech people about offering my writing courses on line. There are workbooks in the development phase -- and I'm off to Concord, Massachusetts week after next to do research for my novel.
Before the retreat where I was supposed to inspire OTHER PEOPLE, I was looking ahead to retirement. After immersing myself in their energy, I'm starting a new yet next logical venture. Alone, we can have ideas and dreams -- but together we can find the boost that gets us going. I think it comes down to this marvelous quote by Mother Teresa:
I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.
So what do you do with that? If you weren't able to make the retreat -- if you feel like you live out in the middle of Not-Creative Land -- if the people you try to share your writing dreams with nod politely and all but pat you on the head and change the subject to something scintillating ... like where to get a great manicure (or eyelashes -- what is WITH that, anyway? I digress) How do YOU find your people?
I have some thoughts on that. Let's see if this helps:
- Comment here regularly. On this blog. Start conversations. Use it like a Facebook chat if you want. When I had my teen blog for 8 years, I was amazed at the friendships that grew from that. Some of those now-women still keep in touch -- really in touch, as in visit each other in different states! You aren't going to find as many of your kind of people many other places. It's a start.
- Reach out to even one other artist in your area -- and she doesn't have to be a writer; visual artists, musicians, choreographers, photographers all possess the same creative energy that you do. Make it a thing. "Come to my house for a glass of wine and a sharing of creative woes and victories on THIS DATE at THIS TIME." Or, "Will you meet me for coffee at _______, just to talk without somebody thinking we're nuts? How about THIS DATE at THIS TIME?" Notice the specificity of it. This is no time for, "We should get together." Be the one who makes it happen.
- Whenever you're in a crowd or group locally -- a party, a church small group, a baby or wedding shower, in line at Starbucks -- make it known that you're a writer (and whatever other creative thing you do ... LILY, for example, is an amazing artist and photographer, ESTHER is also a gifted visual artist, KELLY is a film editor. See if anyone else pipes up with a, "You are? So am I!" Then refer to the second bullet point above.
Shall we start right here? Leave a comment or click here to email me what area you live in. I'll be happy -- no, I'll be delighted -- to connect you with your fellow aspiring authors who aren't far away from you. I'll get everyone's permission, of course, before I start giving out email addresses.
If you're already in a Creative Community, will you share how yours formed, how it works and what it's done for you? After all, we ARE all in this together.
Speaking of which, the Glen Eyrie Writers Workshops are happening July 6-9. As soon as the website goes live I'll provide a link. This could be the first step toward finding your tribe. We would love to have you.