Monday, November 12, 2012
"The Community of Writers," Guest Blog by Julie Steele
Polarization. Red versus Blue. Rich versus poor. Gender wars. Liberal versus Conservative. Christian versus atheist. The media is full of articles on our divided nation. Is it really? On some levels, yes, but often we find commonality in spite of differences.
I have a wide array of friends and some people seem shocked by the diversity. I spent the turbulent week post- election pondering what so many people from all ends of the political and religious spectrums have in common – besides friending me, of course. Freelance writer. Creative non-fiction writer. Romance-in-all-its- many-forms writer. Fortune cookie fortune writer. Politically, spiritually, economically, they run the gamut. What is the common denominator for so many of them?
Words. They love words, putting fingers to keyboard or pen to paper. There is something about the craft of writing, combining words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, that creates a community out of people who write for a living or who must carve out minutes in the middle of the night to write.
Creativity. Those who write are not just good writers. They are creative souls in other ways. Many of the writers I know use their hands to knit, paint, garden, cook, upcycle, build furniture or take pictures. Maybe all the words set fire to the artistic side of our brain. Maybe we need to make something three-dimensional because we throw out our words and never hear how they have affected readers. Whatever the reason, writers are blessed with an abundance of imagination and the need to produce things of beauty.
Generosity. Writers are givers. They share tips with others who may be writing a similar book, not fearing their ideas will be stolen. Their time is spent paying forward as well as paying backward in honor of those who have helped them.
Books. We all have heard it takes books to make a writer. Not books on the craft of writing but reading books, period. The love of reading is as powerful as the need to write. The best book clubs are those whose members don’t always agree on a book but they all find time to turn the page or turn on the Kindle.
Story. Leo Rosten wrote, “A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.” I would add “the need to understand.” When life throws writers a curve, what do they do? They write it into their book (hence of the most popular memes on FB about ending up in someone’s book if they don’t treat the writer right!). Writers experience pain, suffering, and unexpected life challenges. They use words to reach the reader and heal themselves.
The love of words and joy in writing them down is a powerful thing, helping us to see another side, find new friends and new outlets for our craft. Think about your writing community. Are there other things, besides those I have listed, you share? Do you need a little more diversity in your writing contacts, creative outlets or reading to get the pump primed in your own writing?