How often do you get to spend time with other writers? If you had to think about a percentage, is the bulk of your time spent with writers/artists? Or with people in other professions? If your main time is spent at a job that doesn’t involve writing, how often do you get to talk about writing, even socially?
I’ve had conversations with our Alma College Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing students after one of our 10-day residencies. They have returned home after spending all this time with other writers and each time it came up how wonderful it was to simply be with people doing the same thing. During the residency they talked about ideas, shared writing, and learned from each other. I could hear in the voices of these writers that they were uplifted by the experience. Being in community with other writers can change everything.
There is a tremendous about of energy and synergy to be found, and you work best when you are with other writers. All you need to do is find your community. If you are new to writing, you may be reluctant or feel uncomfortable with stepping into unfamiliar circles. But good things can happen when you do.
Once at a writing festival I met a guy who had never attended a writing event until that one. I happened to be the first person he spoke to — honestly, I don’t remember how the conversation came about, but I do remember what we said. Though he had described to me pieces he was working on and what he had recently read, at one point he said he wasn’t really a writer. I told him he was a writer. He was writing, reading, and now being in community with other writers.
I’d only heard from him once since then. But recently he sent me an email. He described how he’s now submitting work and making time in his schedule to write regularly in a space outside of his home. He noted that these changes came about because of our conversation. Being in community helped him move into a new realm of his writing life.
You can find writing community both near and far. I have writing friends where I live but I also attend a few events annually to touch base with my writing community at large. I’m looking forward to the Alma MFA taking our artistic community international with our January 2024 winter residency, which will take place in the Veneto region of Italy. We will enjoy a magnificently luxurious experience with lectures, writing workshops, and creative excursions in with the excellent and knowledgeable Janet Simmonds of Grand Tourist UK as our tour guide.
We will be at the Hotel Villa Franceschi on the Brenta Canal January 4-14, 2024. If you’d like to be in community with us, apply now. I’m excited to see what you write as a result.