Writing is a solitary act. But being a writer doesn’t have to be. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such an awesome writing community. Here are just some of the groups that made my year:
This is my critique group. Susan, Dani, Carolyn, Meg, and Rae. Without these women, my work would be a shadow of what it is now. They always tell me the truth but with kindness and support. It’s hard to make adult friends, let alone friends as kick-ass as these guys. When I feel lost, when I feel like an imposter, when I’m unsure where to go in my writing, these are the first people I approach, and they’re there for me. Love these women!
Off-Campus Writers’ Workshop. Almost every Thursday from September to May, there is a speaker. Some are “famous” like Stuart Dybek and Rebecca Makkai. Some aren’t as well known. Regardless, I learn something every week! It’s a pain in the ass to get up to Winnetka by 9:30 a.m., but I don’t regret the hassle. I’ve gotten great inspiration and notes that I can look back on later and hone my writing craft. And I’m finally at a point where I know quite a few people, and it’s more like family than indifferent colleagues. Large groups are hard for me, but I know enough people now that I’m comfortable. It’s been a great source of socialization and learning.
Just Write Chicago
Almost every Friday since October of 2013 I’ve met writers at New Wave Cafe for a few hours of independent writing and an hour of discussion. I took about a four month hiatus when my son was little, but other than that, I’ve been a consistent attendant. I’ve been running the Friday meeting for a while now, and I’ve loved the flux and flow of people. My favorite thing is when people become regulars. We’ve got quite a few, and it’s inspiring to see people progress in their projects. It’s been a wonderful support system and a great way to give back and help other writers. I’m often amazed at all the insight members have for one another. No matter how much I struggle alone for the rest of the week, it’s a comfort to have this group every Friday to keep me connected to the community.
Sisters In Crime
I recently re-joined this group this year. What a great organization! They have so many free events, free classes, and an excellent support system. The Chicagoland chapter is awesome. Their Annual Writers’ Workshop was so informative and fun and free.
Susan, Tracy, Lyssa, and Sheri. It was an honor to help weed through the problems and choices in all our stories. And the food was excellent.
No gratitude post would be complete without my biggest supporter ever, my husband, Randy. I’m beyond lucky to have him in my life, my alpha reader and biggest cheerleader (except for maybe Susan). And my son, Quinlan, who though he is not yet six has informed me that I’m a great writer. Also, a big shout out to our parents and siblings who’ve stepped in on numerous occasions to watch Quinlan so I could do writerly things. My family rocks.
I hope all the other writers out there have found their writing community–even if it’s only via the internet. Writers, in my experience, are very gracious and supportive of one another. Support others and let them support you. Find your tribe!