Anytime I explore a new area and consider whether it might be where I want to eventually migrate for my next life-phase, I always check out the local writer’s scene. Usual there is always a writer’s group or two, and equally usually they’re of the read-and-critique style where hopefuls share work and hear (frequently with deaf ears) feedback. These sessions can be cathartic for a willing writer, but my experiences have shown they’re not for me (plus they are most suited for fiction writing, which is not my forte).
What I yearn to find (and I will state before someone mentions online groups and yes, they are better than nothing) is more of a writer’s guild approach to my want. Imagine a group of serious and published writers who band together for support on the writing life and the challenges of staying in the game. No question that for some, readings and feedback are critical, but that’s more easily found than what I suggest: a venue where writers can close the door to the outside world, drop our world-famous writer’s egos, and benefit from group therapy with like-minded individuals.
My current Quixotic search for an eventual home finds me thinking seriously about a small town two hours south of me: Yellow Springs, Ohio. Although less than 4,000 residents, YS behaves like a much bigger community. Liberal, infused with heavy dose of arts, free thinkers, yoga studios and even it’s own Zen center, plus nestled in woods, hills, and state parks, YS seems idyllic. And I do know there are several published writers in residence (YS hosts the famed annual Antioch Writer’s Workshop), yet I’ve not able to surface any signs of writers connecting. May simply be that as an outsider, I’m not seeing the local scene…yet.
Writing is a solitary art, and most writers I know would be slow to warm to my vision of a writer’s group. Maybe finding or starting such a group is like growing vegetables: plant cucumber seeds (typical writer’s group) and in no time you’re begging people to take them off your hands, but try to grow asparagus, which takes years before their exquisite flavor can be enjoyed (writer’s guild approach) and one learns the meaning of the word “wait.” Time, patience, and networking (although I dislike that word and think it’s overrated, or at least, abused in practice) may be what I need to find the writer’s group I envision.