Julia Cameron says that artists love artists. They find each other in classes, in workshops, online and even by snail mail. In the old days (as well as in my active fantasy life) they found each other in cafes on the Left Bank or in bars in New York City– The Algonquin, anyone? I’ve found writers, and readers, in truly bizarre places, like trains and–eek– work. But when it comes to finding your own kind, nothing beats a writing group.
My first writing group was Alison Hicks’ amazing Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, where I found confidence, inspiration and lifetime friends (and a husband but that’s a story for another post). The Amherst Writers and Artists method that Alison uses creates a safe, supportive and creative environment like no other.
A one-week conference led me to another group of novelists, poets and memoirists that meets something short of monthly in an amazing venue. We read long excerpts and sometimes full-length manuscripts for each other. We catch up on our kids and our characters when we meet, wrangle passionately over structure and plot points, and swap book recommendations.
Recently I came to realize that I need a weekly group too, to kick my butt and keep me on track, but I just can’t do the late nights and long drive of the Philly group these days. Enter another wonderful group that meets weekly at a local Panera (sometimes the wireless even works). One week we read to each other, the next we write. In theory. In practice, both weeks we chat, swap blogging tips, catch up on each other’s lives and work, and eat (Come to think of it, all my groups eat. Julia Cameron is silent on this issue, as far as I know, but I suspect artists love food, too.)
In all three cases, there’s something special, maybe even sacred, about the groups where we come together to create, to be vulnerable, to share our dreams and first drafts. So go ahead, find a group. Grab some coffee. Pull up a chair. We’re so glad you’re here.
And on the topic of artists loving artists, check out my favorite visual artist’s blog at http://sheldonkleemanartworks.com .