I've spent many years being a member of various organizations. If I had a dollar for every club or group I have either reasearched or joined, I would have most of Vivian's college tuition saved by now!
In high school, I belonged to nearly every club or activity that was listed -- student council, dance team, newspaper staff, yearbook staff, prom committee, etc. etc. By the time I graduated, I was exhausted! After all those high school social activities, I took a break in college to focus on academics.
Then in my early twenties I found online groups and networks to meet friends (and that's how I ended up meeting my husband - you can read our story here! :-) I also took cooking classes, community aerobics classes, joined a New Neighbors League, and more. When I didn't have a child, I invited others to join me twice a month for "Cocktails and Conversation" - a social mixer I created with other females to enjoy drinks and discussions after working hours.
Each time I moved to a new state and city, I looked for clubs, resources, potential friends and networking opportunities. When I moved to Pensacola, Florida last October (Wow, almost a year ago!), I found an online moms resource site right away. That online network led me to meeting my very good friend Jen who turned out to be a fellow writer and blogger. Jen invited me to join a moms club that she partakes in. I knew this was a friendly, great group for me from the very beginning. Now I volunteer with this moms' organization and I often recruit new people into our club. Although we have fun activities planned for mothers and children nearly every day of the week, I have now realized that I need another outlet for my creative side, not just my parenting side.
Jen and I met up recently to discuss our writing desires for the future. I can't tell you how fortunate I am to have found a local friend who loves doing what I do (writing) and who shares my passion for literacy and exploration. We both revealed how easy it can be to fall into a funk with creativity and become distracted with the every day parts of life, especially motherhood. Yet both of us really want to put our pens to paper (errr, keyboards to laptops) and make some serious strides this fall in our writing goals.
So after talking about our plans over bagels with cream cheese and coffee....because you can't have a meeting without food, am I right?...., we have decided to form our own writer's group. For now it's just the two of us. Maybe it will always be just the two of us. But we're rather excited over it.
I even suggested a clever name for our club. Giving it a name makes it feel real and meaningful. Now we have a funny code word to use for our future gatherings. It will be casual and flexible but we're both determined to meet once or twice a month to do nothing but brainstorm, write and edit (and eat and drink too, probably.... most likely).
Starting our own club just makes sense since neither of us have found a creative group that fits our needs. I actually contacted a local writers federation, left messages for them, but no one ever called me back. I've also looked into listings of gulf coast area writers but many of them seem to be a "show and tell" of work already published, not exactly an avenue for aspiring writers who are working on projects, like we'll be doing.
And I LOVE my online blogging community. It is wonderful. You are wonderful. I sure do love my readers and commenters. Yet I realized that I need a live, warm body next to me who can be my writing cheerleader, someone to offer me feedback and editing tips. Since my friend Jen lives within fifteen miles of me, I know she will help hold me accountable for what I say I'm going to do. Plus, she's a former teacher so it's perfect -- she'll probably help me develop a lesson plan and give me homework assignments! :-)
After our first, impromtu "meeting", I went home and created six pages in my cookbook that I've been slacking on. I also completed most of my outline for it, spending an hour of uninterrupted time just thinking about it. I felt such a sense of accomplishment! I know I should have done this sooner. I know I've gotten distracted and made excuses. But I can't go back now. I can only go forward and really push myself this time -- to keep writing, continue working and focusing in on my creative skills. The pep talk Jen gave me and our shared aspirations was just what I needed to kickstart me into high gear again.
The reason I'm sharing this here on my blog is to motivate me even further to continue this writing journey. If I write it here, then I'm adding another level of accountability for myself. I have to do it. It's another "challenge" I suppose but not one I'm doing as a monthly writeup. Rather, it's a life long task of mine. Plus I wanted to mention it now since I will be distant during the month of October. After all, I plan to be writing more and blogging less in order to reach my personal deadline for this cookbook. I finally had to slap my hand with a ruler (old school teacher style) and committ to a due date for the birth of my literary baby. I hope I don't go overdue. That would hurt and I don't need side cramps! ;-)
I'm curious - Have you ever started your own club? Have you ever formed your own interest/hobby group in order to meet a creative outlet/passion of yours? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please share them in the comments section.
Hell, it worked in the film Old School right? The characters played by actors Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell started their own fraternity. Sure it began with drinking and partying but it did give those men a sense of purpose and they formed friendships.
A club is a club, no matter how you look at it. If you're gaining something worthwhile by joining one or starting one, then that is all that counts. If we're having an off day or moments where our creative juices just aren't flowing, I know that Jen and I can just go from the writing club to the cocktails club. And it could be important research for our books anyway, right? ;-)