Thoughts on the benefits of finding community

I can remember the moment and see it in my mind — we were gathered in front of the entrance to Robert Frost Hall (on the SNHU campus). Surrounded by other first-year MFA’ers and some of that year’s graduating students, I had the sense that I had found ‘my people’. I am not a joiner by nature; the recent rediscovery of an essay I wrote in high school on why people join groups confirms it. So this was a new feeling, this belonging. From the outside, we couldn’t have looked more varied and different. But what bound us was “something that all begins with the 26 letters of the alphabet”, to quote Nancy Werlin. Writing. What brought me there? I simply wanted to grow my skills, to challenge myself. But still, I qualified as a member.

Monthly gatherings around a dining room table with my writing group were at one time my only connection to other writers (and readers). But in the spirit of someone’s now-famous quote about baby steps, I have slowly added to that. I’ve become a contributing Friend of my local library and had the pleasure of meeting bestselling author Chris Bohjalian. As this year’s graduate assistant in the writing program, I have had the privilege of chatting personally with our visiting writers, Francine Prose and Ann Hood. And on the invitation of a classmate, yesterday I attended the WNBA-Boston chapter’s annual tea (that is, Women’s National Book Association) where award-winning writers Nancy Werlin (Young Adult author), Ona Buchanan (poet and concert pianist), and Katie Smith Milway (Young Adult/Children’s author) spoke. Not only were the surroundings of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel elegant and the pastries exquisite, the room was filled with book-loving, word-hungry peeps!

Early in the afternoon, I had an opportunity for a one-on-one conversation with Nancy Werlin — can you tell that personal chats are my favorite? Hearing some of the backstory details of her novel, impossible, up-close-and-personal, I was inspired to purchase a copy of my own from Village Books, the event’s independent bookseller of choice. … And on a personal note, Village Books took home some copies of Eating Clean to put on their shelves and has asked if I would do an event at their store in 2010. Which is what inspired me to write this post in the first place … finding my community, getting out of my comfort zone of familiar routine and dress-down jeans and showing my support of others, helps keep my artist self buoyed and eligible for opportunities, too. It’s never comfortable at first, but I seem to return home inspired, invigorated, and freshly enthused to get down to work. Here’s wishing you a creative week! I’d love to hear how you’ve built your own community for inspiration and sense of belonging.

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8 responses to “Thoughts on the benefits of finding community

  1. My human is chairing a Music festival, Music at the Mounds, to raise funds for an environmental project. (For the Randell Research Center) I’m involved in a neighborhood canine bone sharing symposium. http://www.sandysays1.wordpress.com

  2. I have found that either you are a “joiner” or you aren’t. I am most definitely a joiner, and I have found great satisfaction in it. I like talking to people standing in line. I like finding the thread that connects me to others. I think as we age there are fewer “natural” connections. When you are in school you make friends there. When you have young children, you become friends with other parents of young children. When I find a connection now it totally delights me, and sustains me.

    And thank you for joining the Friends. I think you have many wonderful skills that we use and appreciate. Every voice adds a bit to the chorus.

  3. Isn’t it wonderful when you find kindred spirits? For now the most I can handle is the book club at church, and the monthly teas with Trudie, but it’s faith building, energy giving stuff and I need it. So, that’s where I’m finding my community at the moment. I’m finding that the older I get the harder it is for me to be with people I don’t connect with. “Live Like We Were Dying!”

  4. wow, amazing demonstrations and effective energies on words…

    have fun exploring new, fresh, novel, strange, and innocent souls and friendships!

    http://www.jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com

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