Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Water's Edge...

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary avocation.  A writer needs, wants, even craves time alone to create.  This can be a double-edged sword.  Some writers squirrel themselves away like hermits, not talking to anyone and not seeking contact with the outside world.  Other writers have outside world overload and are forced to squeeze tiny segments of writing time between kids, work, parents, school activities, and the chores of daily life.  These mundane tasks can consume days, weeks, months, and years like a ravenous black hole consumes planets.  Those writers look back and wonder what happened to all that time.

As human beings, we need human contact.  It enriches our intellectual and emotional life, and it makes us better, more rounded, happier individuals.  A writer who shuns outside contact, while he or she may write brilliantly, eventually falls short of the human experiences needed to enrich the writer’s personal life and work.  A writer on life overload never has time to slow down enough to process his or her experiences and translate them into brilliant writing.

Is there a happy medium?  Probably not, but there are coping mechanisms that writers can use to deal with either situation.  I’ve spent some time over the last few years trekking to downtown Cleveland, then to Lakewood, to attend the once-a-month meeting of the Greater Cleveland Writers Meet-Up in Lakewood.  I’ve never been a huge joiner of groups, and often feel that I’m in that awkward stage between the “wanna-be” author and the best-selling author.  I don’t quite fit in the retiree’s writing group, nor do I have time for the local critique groups.  I barely have time to do edits and rewrites on my own stuff, much less edit and critique someone else’s work.  At the Greater Cleveland Writers Meet-Up, I found an incredibly diverse group of poets, screen writers, novelists, journalists, article writers, bloggers, editors, illustrators, technical writers, and self-publishers.  The meetings are lively, interesting, and provide both that human contact perspective and the networking perspective needed to move forward, no matter what your genre or associated specialty.

The writer’s meet-up isn’t just for the hermit writer.  The overloaded writer who attends finds that many of the others they meet there are fighting that same battle…finding enough quality time to write.  They share their ideas with others who are struggling to find that blessed hour, or day, to sit undisturbed and let the writing muse take over.

I would highly recommend the Greater Cleveland Writers Meet-Up to any writer who needs or wants contact with like-minded individuals, and who doesn't mind driving to Lakewood.  Dave Van Horn, who runs the GCWMU, is a great resource and has a terrific and successful group of over 500 people who are somehow involved in writing.  These people are at all levels, from thinking about it to multiply published.  This is what networking with other writers is all about.

That said, the biggest obstacle for me is the commute.  I have no problem making a 50-minute commute in each direction in the good weather months, but with all the other commitments I am juggling, making that commute in the nasty weather…well it just isn’t worth the risk.  The other thing is that I kept running into writers in Lake County who balked at the thought of making that kind of commute for a voluntary meeting.  I can’t say that I blame them.

After considerable thought and much discussion with other Lake County writers (and other “East of Clevelanders”), I took the plunge and created Water’s Edge Writers Meet-Up.  We had our first meeting on Wednesday at the Kirtland Public Library.  We have 22 members so far, and nine people came to the meeting on one of the worst weather days of the year.  I thank them all for doing so.  We had a good time, got to know each other a little, and shared a lot of information and ideas.  Feel free to join our merry band of writers!  Eventually, I hope our brand new group will be as successful as Dave and the GCWMU over in Lakewood.