When I was in classes for my English degree, I had built in peer reviews for my writing. One class in particular, the final of the class was 50-pages of your own writing, in whatever genre you chose at the beginning of the semester. I chose historical drama and I hated my final submission, but I stuck with it for the duration of the class and churned out 50+ pages come finals time. In that class, we worked in a small writing group within the class (four people per group) and you stayed with that group for the entire semester. I looked forward to the critiques from my group and also to reading their next installations in their writings.
In the world of 9-5, you might be in a community based on your project team, or your department, or who sits in the cubicle next to you. Those communities are forced on you, similar to the writing group of my college English class.
When I’ve found people based on mutual interests instead of mutual locations, the community has so much more meaning. The community becomes family.
I have a soccer family. We’ve played together for almost a decade and in that time have celebrated weddings, supported teammates through divorces, lost community members, added new ones, showered new babies, and mourned over lost babies. When I first started dating my husband, I knew that the approval of my teammates was important to me. They loved him.
I have a writing family. This was harder to come by because their aren’t leagues of writing teams where you can call the main office and ask for the captains’ names to join one. Writers keep close to home. They keep their writing close to the heart. It’s not easy to pull a full group of them together and mandate sharing writing assignments each month. But it’s a powerful experience.
We all met in a memoir writing class. We cared enough about honing our craft that we signed up for this experience, not for college credit, not for a business certificate at home, but simply for our own improvement. Each class, we shared writing. We brought assignments or we shared whatever came out of a free write done in class. Sharing your writing will bond you. Sharing your memoir writing even more. We learned each others’ life stories. When the class neared an end, I think I sensed some fear in people’s eyes. They didn’t want to lose this writing bond. Thankfully, somebody suggested that we try and keep it up. Everybody agreed.
We meet once a month. We take turns hosting. We each bring 2-pages of writing to share. We print enough copies for everyone to have one. Somebody else reads your writing. We laugh. We cry. We hug. It’s a beautiful thing.
Have you found your people?