I belong to two writers groups. One is of long standing, meets in my house, and produces a variety of fiction, occasionally a poem or two and some memoirs. The other one I started at our church about a year ago. Various people attended or said they would attend, but the church group has settled down to seven or eight regulars. This group produces a wider variety: memoir, a first novel, other fiction, haiku, other poetry, theological examinations, anti-war proclamations, comic routines.
I have now belonged to several such groups, the longest running one, 1967 – 1983, housed at the University of New Brunswick. I have also taught many creative writing courses and writing workshops, from grade one to graduate students. What these groups have in common is that the participants become very close. We get to know each other in a way that doesn’t happen in other contexts, from the inside out. We get to know each others’ writing voices, obsessions; as my husband said one time, we educate the others to what we individually are trying to do, how to listen to us.
My church writers group met today. My pleasure was intense, far out of proportion to the amount or quality of the writing. Tonight a friend who used to belong to both the long-running UNB group and the one that meets at my house comes to stay with us. He is here for the launch tomorrow night of his latest book. Most of the writers from our group will be at the launch. I was going to describe the reunion as a family reunion, but that is not precisely how it will feel. A family reunion carries the tension of caring too much, whereas this reunion will have the quality of familiarity, of caring, but not of caring so much it hurts.
Apropos of my previous post, my own favorite hymn is Dear Lord and Master of Mankind, also by John Greenleaf Whittier. He was from my neck of the woods.