Cheers to Two Year! - On Writers' Groups
When I started writing six years ago, I didn’t have any writer friends. I had a few friends who happened to be writers, but our relationship wasn’t about writing. We sometimes chatted about craft and works in progress in passing, but they far surpassed me. They had MFAs and published books. They would politely inquire about what I was working on and offer advice and reading recommendations, but there was little I could do for them.
I needed more. But how? After some online research, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) seemed like a logical place to start. I joined and quickly became an overactive member—kinda like a new religious convert who becomes fanatical, participating in their workshops, open mics, and contests, and networking my little heart out (thanks business school!).
Their regular newsletter informed me of other opportunities. Soon, I was subscribed to a handful of newsletters like WOW! Women on Writing, and an armful of Facebook groups, like Canada Writes. I was starting to feel like a real writer.
But let’s be real, I’m greedy. Due to the pandemic, most of my writing interaction was coming from the all-too-familiar disembodied heads of a Zoom call. I wanted more. I wanted an in-person writers’ group.
I’m a big believer in helping to create the community you want to live in. So, I got to work. The Tuft’s Cove Writers’ Collective was born—named after Dartmouth’s iconic smokestacks. I had visions of our group and our writers becoming similarly infamous. I crafted an ad and put it in the WFNS, requesting folks to send a writing sample and a little about themselves.
I look at the ad now and think, the gall of me! But I’m so glad I did it. The responses came pouring in. We had our first meeting on a warm June evening in my backyard. We sat in a nervous, socially-distanced circle and chatted and read to one another. Andrea brought a bottle of Nova Seven and tiny plastic cups. My dog, Lola, knocked over a bowl of guacamole and ate it, along with some glass shards (she was fine). The flies ate us alive as we shared our words. It was perfectly imperfect.
Over the last two years, we have attended a member’s book launch, accompanied one another for readings and pitch events, and met every month in living rooms, backyards, and bars. We even started a monthly open mic together, dART speak! It has been nothing short of lovely to watch the Tufties blossom (individually and together).
Membership has ebbed and flowed, some folks have drifted off, and others have joined. But through it all, we’ve had one another’s backs through the ups and downs of the writing life. Celebrating two years has me reflecting on what having a writers’ group has given me. Here is a truncated list:
A place to ask questions and talk shop (so I don’t annoy my nonwriter friends or long-suffering husband too much).
A place to get ideas, information, and inspiration (and support when the inevitable rejections come in).
A place to find beta readers and get valuable editing experience.
Writer friends to go to writing events with.
A monthly time and space to share work and celebrate the writers’ life.
A group of friends to grow and learn with.
Despite my original intentions, our writers’ group doesn’t have a throughline of genre, approach, or background. We are like a bad joke. An engineer, an MBA, and a librarian walk into a bar… or What do you get when you cross a playwright, a poet, and a horror writer? We cross the gambit, and I personally think that makes us stronger—and much more interesting. We have unique perspectives to offer one another on our work. And no two readings are ever the same at a meeting!
So, to my beloved Tufties: Thanks for all the laughs and all the words. All the advice and all the commiseration. Thank you for being my contemporaries. Thank you for providing me with community.
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