Today I went to the first meeting of a writer’s group.
Five of us gathered on this dismal cold and rainy Saturday morning for the very first time.
Everyone was excited and confessed their fears.
We spent the first hour discussing what we wanted to achieve in the group.
We all agreed that being accountable to each other was important
to our own creative process.
We discovered that we are all the kind of writers who need deadlines.
Left to our own devices we would just do other things.
I have never been part of a serious writer’s group before–
and I am so happy to have this opportunity.
I want to allow myself to be encouraged and to expose myself to hard and honest
critical feedback from the other writers.
I find that people are not comfortable giving or receiving truthful feedback–
especially the tough kind–and so this is going to be part of our adventure together.
I hope we will be learning to expose ourselves to both the nurturing light of encouragement,
and to the cold rain of criticism without dying on the vine.
Maybe that metaphor is a little precious but–
I want to learn how to both accept and reject critical feed back.
Both are necessary. Sometimes advice or direction can be damaging and confusing.
You have to know when to say thank you but ignore what ever was said–
and when to accept the criticism because it is useful and reveals something to you.
I think all artists are fearful of perceived judgement.
It’s one of the crazy things we do.
We fear the thoughts of others.
What someone thinks of us really has no real weight,
but we cringe at the thought of it.
We often interpret criticism to mean we are not good enough.
The actual judging is something we are doing to ourselves.
Criticism given in the right spirit is not judgement at all,
but a kind of collaboration in the forward movement of the work.
At least it can be.
I also want to constantly remind myself that the desire to write comes
from a deep love of the written word.
It’s a joy that we experience.
We see how the world is illuminated and made to shine
because of the way someone has written about it.
And we want to do that same thing.
We don’t realize the extent of the effort and struggle that is involved.
We aren’t prepared for the loss of faith in ourselves or the challenges that arise.
I think we worry too much about our ability and our talent or the lack thereof.
I have decided to be unconcerned about whether I have talent
and just focus on the work.
I want to fuel the work with my passion for the work.
And to constantly remind myself about my love for it despite the pain.
I want to keep writing–
even badly if necessary–
to get to where I can write well.
I am here for the long haul.
Now, on to staring down the blank screen.
On to the task of defeating my self-doubt one more day.