Monday, December 13, 2010

End of Another Writing Year

My wonderful Boulder-based critique group had our holiday dinner last night, with nine of us gathered around the beautifully decorated table at Elizabeth's house. Two beloved former members joined us for the occasion, and we added one new member this year, so the evening was a sweet mixture of old and new, with so many stories to share.

Ina asked us all to share our writing accomplishments for the year. Listening to our self-summaries, I was struck at how different we are in our approach to writing. Three of us are always writing heaps of books, whether or not they get published; we just keep on writing through hard times, through good times; we are dogged, dedicated, die-hard writing machines. I fall in that group. This year I wrote three 125-page novels in the space of six months while also nursing a dying mother, a dying father-in-law, and various dying dreams.

Others in our group spend more time letting the well refill. They make more space in their lives to develop their creativity in other ways. One, for example, has been prioritizing her photography rather than her writing. One is in the process of sustained private groping toward trying to write something unlike anything she's written before. One is preoccupied with the demands of her day job and giving herself permission to take some time off from writing.

I decided long ago that when it comes to creativity, one creative style isn't better or worse than another, it's just different. Maybe it would be good for our group's doers to spend more time dreaming, or for our dreamers to spend more time doing. Or maybe not. Our doers definitely produce more books. I wouldn't say that we produce better books. Maybe next year I'll try make more space for creative idleness, for deceptively lazy stretches of imaginative play. Or maybe I'll write five 125-page books.

But either way, it was wonderful holding hands around Elizabeth's table, blessed to be in the company of such beloved writer friends.


  1. Hi there, I came across this blog when I was helping my mom (Debbie, you went to high school with her) locate your website. I just wanted to drop in and say hello, although I feel like I already know you, what with my mom's stories about you and all. And I remember taking At the Back of the Woods off her bookshelf when I was quite young and absconding with it. I really loved it. Anyway, I hope all is well and that you have a lovely holiday season!


  2. Thank you for sharing the warmth of your writing group, Claudia! I loved reading about all the different approaches to the writing process and the comfort of finding my own among them.

  3. Francesca, welcome to my blog! I hope you mom's stories shared with you how much I loved and adored and worshiped her, and still do. And we're both Wellesley women, too. I hope you have a happy holiday season, too.

    And Clara, I always treasure your comments on my blog. We will see each other so soon!