Saturday, September 04, 2004



Earlier this summer, my local library asked if I'd facilitate a writers' group. They'd had some requests for a group at the library and were willing to set it up, but didn't know how to get it rolling.

Knowing from experience that people come to writers' groups with very differing expectations, I sent out a questionnaire in advance, and I learned something very interesting--most people wanted to join a writers' group, at least in part, so that they'd write!

It shouldn't have come as a complete surprise. Several years ago, when I was just reimmersing myself into writing after many dry years and my first book was just a vague idea that had been dancing at the edges of my brain for twenty years, I joined a writers' group for almost the same purpose. It wasn't so much that I needed motivation to write as that I needed to find the right frame of mind. Creative immersion can be tough in a world that requires us to show up for work, do the grocery shopping, make dinner, answer the phone and decline to switch our long distance to AT&T every hour, clean the house, help the kids with the homework, call the plumber...

It's easy, under those circumstances, to put it off until tomorrow. The great idea that pops into your head in the shower might survive until it's quiet at the end of the day, but after putting in an eighteen hour day, the motivation to sit down and write it out might be pretty low. You might tell yourself that it will keep until tomorrow--and maybe it will. But maybe tomorrow won't be any different.

The years when I let that happen were good ones in many ways. I went to law school and practiced law, taught college, had a child. Life was good. But there's no question that I let something important slip away, something I was fortunate enough to call back and build a career on in my thirties.

I'm doing workshops, now, with teenage writers, showing them how to start publishing their work now instead of dreaming of someday. My hope is that with enough encouragement early in their lives, they'll build a place for writing in their lives that will remain impenetrable when grown-up responsibility intrudes. I know, though, that the world is full of responsible grown-ups with jobs and families who haven't quite let go of that dream. I like to think that some of them might, someday, read one of my articles or an interview I've given or listen to a talk in a library and say, "Hey, it's not too late for me, either!" That, in the end, is what this blog is all about. If you're a writer, you're a writer. It's in your blood, and it hasn't gone away just because you took a dozen or so years off to get on with your life. If you harbor secret dreams, take out a piece of paper. Sit down at the keyboard. It really is that easy.

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