It’s been four months since graduation, and here I sit, in front of a computer, waiting to write. My first month free of packet deadlines was heavenly. No due dates, no stress, no writing. It occurred to me that those deadlines gave me something to work towards every month, a schedule to stick to when life got in the way. I miss that schedule.
I was lucky enough that in my third semester of Solstice I found a writer’s group to join. A group of likeminded people who met once a month with a packet of writing for everyone else to read. It was like a less formal residency, no mentor’s great advice but plenty of critique from friendly faces wanting you to succeed. This was something I could do, someplace I could go to feel like I belonged and was home.
Home. Solstice is a type of home for us literary artists, a place where we go to surround ourselves with Shakespeare and Poe and Meyers (maybe not precisely Stephanie Meyers) and pages and pages of words waiting to be edited spawned from fertile imaginations. And of course, where we go to be with each other to write and create and form our community.
It’s still there, after graduation, except now I’m looking in from the outside. My heart doesn’t beat with dread and anticipation of reading my piece in front of everyone, but I miss that mad rush to finish my story for workshop that dominated December and May.
A writer’s group offers that opportunity. Instead of mentors, there are peers. Instead of worrying about what order we’re reading in, there is an opportunity to spend our time listening to the creativity of others and inspire yourself from their work or inspire them through yours. It’s a chance to be a teacher, and an author, and a poet, and an editor and run the spectrum of anything in-between because you’ve got your MFA now, you have a place that will always call you home and a writer’s group offers a retreat along the way, a chance to explore those other avenues that maybe those deadlines held you away from. And it meets once a month, or twice a month, or however many times, and it’s a subtle deadline you can count on.
And if you can’t find a writer’s group to join, make one yourself. You’re not alone. I think it’s something I forget sometimes. There are people at the local coffee shops who smuggle notebooks in their purses and computer bags. People at work who are looking for a chance to find another writer to talk to. They’re everywhere; we’re everywhere. So if you miss the deadlines and the comradery and January and July are too far away, find a way-station, and new friends and artists and writers to bring back home with you. That’s what I did.