I had the strangest feeling of disorientation last night. As I sat at my computer answering emails suddenly I felt a little dizzy and I realized I didn’t know what day it was. I had the sense I was supposed to be somewhere, but I didn’t know where. Certainly it wasn’t there, at my desk, in my yoga clothes, emailing about lunch dates with my sisters.
Then I realized: it was Wednesday night and I was supposed to be with my Wednesday writing group. That was it!
My body or my memory or my internal clock—something—was telling me I was supposed to be at Inspirations Gallery, sitting around that long table with Betsy and Anita and Greg and Scott and Helen and the other writers who, over the course of the three-year life of this particular group, had been coming together each week for read and critique of their work.
But we’d ended the group mid-December. Three of the writers had finished various drafts of their books, one already had a contract, and would be leaving the group anyhow. One was on leave of absence and another was working with her agent in a deadline-rushed draft of her newest book. Clearly the time had come for the group to end. We’d said our goodbyes at our last session and had a farewell potluck with others who’d been in the group over the previous three years. Now was mid-January; Wednesday night wasn’t writing group night any more.
Still, there I was at my desk, disoriented and a little lonely.
I’ve experienced this same feeling at the end of writing groups before, whether I was leader or participant. Because where else can we find the kind of community and connection with our own kind than in a writing group? Group members become more than colleagues. Groups give us motivation and courage to continue and pull us out of the muck when we’re stuck. They give us a place to go with our work, to get feedback and critique and cheering on. They are friends, family of sorts, and a source of the support we need to continue. And, oh, the stories we get to read. Week by week, in installments, so compelling we can’t wait for the next session to find out what happens next.
I was missing all this. No wonder I felt disoriented and lonely.
The good news: A new group is starting in a few weeks. We’ll meet on Tuesdays rather than Wednesdays, and I’m a participant rather than the group leader. But the rest of it will be the same—the support, the camaraderie, the snacks, and the stories. I can’t wait!
Are you a member of a regular writing group? What’s your experience with groups? Are you part of an online group? How is it different than an in-person group? How is it the same? Let’s talk about writing groups.