Sunday, March 8, 2015

Old Writers, New Directions

For years I’ve been part of a small group of writers that meets (weather permitting) every Tuesday morning. We bring what we are working on, seek  comments, discuss problems, encourage each other. The group is small. Intimate, cozy, at home with ourselves and each other. And perhaps a bit tired.

We’ve recently had a new voice join us, younger by a generation at least. And I realize how old the rest of us have become. Old in our ways, perhaps in our thinking. Certainly in our enthusiasm.

We’ve been doing this for years now, this weekly meeting. We are comfortable but not careless; problems aren’t glossed over or minimized. Our purpose, our focus remains the same: to help each other write well and truly about whatever theme or subject we individually have chosen. It is a powerful and encouraging meeting. But we have become less intense about our work, I suspect.

Our new member has published before, though not in fiction. Her interests and skills are broad-based, and she is now exploring other genre. And her ideas flow and thrust themselves out into our world on an almost daily basis: “Have you written about this?” “Are you doing that?” “I’m trying a new idea.” All come tumbling out, driving us to consider new directions ourselves, getting us excited about some new ideas and challenges. And it is very exhausting!

Frankly, I’m finding it hard to keep up. Somewhat like starting a new exercise regimen, one must repeat the action over and over for a prolonged period before it becomes easy and, I might add, rewarding. I’m not really sure it’s age-related, though. As with anything one does repeatedly, over time it will lose its urgency, become routine. It is one cause of dreaded “writer’s block.”

Looking back over the years our group has been working together we have prompted, promoted and pushed each other to start, refine, finish and start again one writing project after another. I know my own books would not have been finished, probably not even started, had I not had the benefit of this corps of skilled, astute and motivated fellow strivers. Together we search for the right themes, the perfect form, the absolute right word in line after line, page upon page, of chapter and finished manuscript. But even that can benefit from new blood, new muscle, from exercise that stretches us creatively.

 Writing each day, whether a new chapter or just a line, or even a “note to self” about an ongoing or new project, is what we do.

New directions or ideas or techniques are exercises we must also do and repeat.

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