“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” E.B White

K Hollingsworth-Cat Window books

Painting by Karen Hollingsworth

About a week ago I sat down with Julie and Julie and Margaret and Laura for the first time. A new writing group. A group of women I know from the writing community: some I know pretty well, some I’m just getting to know. All I could think was how lucky I was to be among them.

As a group they’ve published dozens of wonderful books; each is dedicated to her craft; each has high standards for her work. They all know how hard it is to write the short form—poetry, picture books, early readers. And I need them for that. I need their exacting standards, their critical eye.

But I need them for something else. Companionship in this difficult career. I need their clucks of commiseration, their murmurs of agreement. Their encouragement. Their industry gossip. Their inside jokes. Their book recommendations. Their ups and downs with husbands, children and editors.

I’m greedy. This is my second writing group. I have another long-standing group with friends, Dia Calhoun and Kathryn Galbraith. They are true-blue buddies and writing companions. So why two groups?

The creative life is uneven. There are times of great production and times when nothing seems to come. Sometimes an entire group can go stale. Sometimes a group gets shaky because of illness or a personal life crisis takes up so much of a member’s mind and time. Someone leaves. Things fall apart. Or at least grind to a crawl. Maybe I’m hoping that when one group falters, the other will be perking up.

And you can become familiar with each other’s work. It’s easy to fall into a pattern—a familiar call and response in terms of the feedback you get and the feedback you give. It was startling and fun, last week, to hear new and different voices chime in on my work.

So, I’m buying insurance, I guess. I can’t imagine functioning without a writing group. I’ve never failed to get an important insight from a critique. I’ve never failed to get a boost out of talking with people facing the same challenges, frustrations, goals and hopes that I am.

I can’t hear someone else’s words without suddenly feeling an eagerness to write my own words. I can’t help but take any feedback to anyone in the group back to my own work. Someone lands a great contract and I want that, too. Someone is frustrated that they haven’t heard from their editor and I get to tell my story about the three-year wait. Someone’s child has quietly grown up while we were busy making other plans.

Sure Virginia Woolf wrote: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write.”  But she also wrote: “Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.”

Image

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11 responses to ““It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” E.B White

  1. laurakvasnosky

    we are so lucky you have joined us, bonny. for all the reasons you so eloquently articulate.

  2. A good group is priceless! So glad you have two!

  3. Julie Paschkis

    Hear, here!
    Bonny – It is good to have you in the group at the real and the virtual table.

  4. Bonny, we are so pleased to welcome you at our literal – and literary – table. Can’t wait to see what new flavors you add to the pot luck!

  5. I agree, writing groups are wonderful! And I love your choice of quotation and picture for this post. :)

  6. I echo what Julie P., Laura and Margaret said, Bonny. We’re so pleased to have you “at the table” with us. And now I have to go check out that painter – Karen Hollingsworth. That’s another thing writer-friends can do – send us out into the world to check out something or someone new. Thanks!

  7. There’s nothing like a good writers group Bonny, remembering the old days fondly.

  8. I feel the same way about my writing group. Thanks for reminding me how important they are! What a beautiful painting by Karen Hollingsworth. I can almost feel the breeze blowing in through the window.

  9. Excellent, Bonny. Enjoyed this piece.

  10. Love this, Bonny, so true.

  11. Indeed! I am quite jealous! I am still in search of similar minds… in the physical world at least! Best of luck with your latest ventures. ;D
    <3 Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    http://www.connect-the-cloths.com
    http://blogspotter.co/connect-the-cloths/
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

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