Gallery of Gratitude—Week #3
15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To start the new year, 2015. It’s never too late to join us. Learn about the challenge here.
Several years ago, the first time I attended the Midwest Writers Workshop, I met this woman from Michigan. Irene invited me to lunch with some people from her writers group. The next year, I met a redhead from Indiana, Sarah, who also hit it off with that group of writers from Michigan. Before long, Joe, Terri, Irene, Sarah, and I were hanging out with Kelsey and Dan and a whole lot of other people. We kept having to pull up extra chairs because we didn’t fit around the table anymore. Someone dubbed it the Cool Kids table. And our writers group was born.We’ve added a few others along the way—Julie, Lisa, Jane, Jama—who are present when they can be. We have fun together. But what I love is this: every single person takes their writing seriously.
They work it in around kids and jobs and all of life’s busyness. It’s not a hobby, it’s a passion. I’ve watched their determination—Sarah’s and Joe’s, in particular—to press on, no matter how busy they are with regular life. To keep getting better. To finish one project and start another and never give up hope. To learn more, and try new things, and do whatever they have to do in order to make this happen. To be published. To be able to keep writing.
I’ve never been great at follow-through—I have lots of ideas but not enough hours or energy to make it all happen. But the determination of my friends is impressive. Without them, I doubt I would have attempted to write a book, and if I had, it wouldn’t be nearly as good. We all write something different—fiction and non, mysteries, historical fiction, horror, poetry, inspirational, YA and middle grade. We all have different backgrounds. We’re a wide range of ages. And yet, somehow, the bond was deep and instant and only gets stronger.
On paper, and maybe in person too, we appear to be an unlikely group. But this group brings something into my life that I don’t get anywhere else. This past weekend, we had our third annual retreat. We write. And talk. Mostly about writing. We read each other’s work, help each other past problems. We brainstorm ideas, suggest marketing techniques, discuss our experiences so far with agents and publishers. And we laugh. And have spirited discussions. And ongoing jokes. And deep connections. And like every other year, we found ourselves still up at midnight, sitting around the fire—still talking about writing. We gathered around to hear Irene’s poetry. We ate a lot of food. We laughed. We advised and counseled and taught and propped each other up. And had a glass or two of champagne to celebrate our successes.
These are not the kinds of friendships you can make happen. This is the kind that comes naturally, instantly, without any effort at all. I’m so grateful that God gave me such a great group of friends, people who have become some of my biggest cheerleaders. People whose love for what they do has inspired me to keep going, to keep writing. To do whatever I can do to make this publishing thing happen for me—but also for them.
Tell me—who has inspired you? Send them a note or post a short tribute to them on Facebook or your blog. When we share our stories, we get to know each other better, and I want to know about you.
P.S. If you have a group you’d like to spend a weekend with, someplace comfortable, I highly recommend the Patchwork Quilt Inn in Middlebury, IN. We’ve gone there every year. The owners are fabulous—as is the food. It would be a great getaway for a couple, but it’s the perfect setup for something like this.
P.P.S. I have no idea why that photo is upside down. I wasn’t trying to be cute. My computer is doing it and I can’t figure out why or how to fix it. So I guess you’ll have to look at things upside down in order to see right side up. Hmm… maybe I should write a book about that.