I belong to a writers’ group. This group is filled with people from a variety of places, backgrounds, faiths, family structures, and ages. We all focus our writing around different themes, but we have one thing in common. We share the burning desire to write and to improve each day.
We give and receive feedback on our writing from each other. Oftentimes it is complimentary, but sometimes thoughtfully constructive. I have grown very fond of this group. I am inspired by the risk my fellow writers take each day, by bearing their hearts to their readers.
I find courage to do the same by their examples. When I grow up as a writer, I want to be like them.
The most beautiful aspect of this group is the sense of community. I had the opportunity to spend 90 minutes on a Skype call with another member of this group. Even though we had never talked face to face before this call, we both walked away from the conversation feeling as though we chatted with an old friend. Such is the power of true kinship.
But an unexpected event occurred in the broader writing group which has given me pause, and caused me to reevaluate this community. A newer member of our group was offended over the spiritual content of some of the writers in the group, and excluded himself from us.
I have a myriad of emotions over this. I feel a sense of sadness because this person walked away from such a great and diverse group of friends and fellow writers. I have disappointment, because there was some level of unwillingness on his part to allow for others to write on topics that are uninteresting or offensive to him.
I am concerned that it was my approach to writing – which is fundamentally faith centered – which drove him away. At the same time, my resolve to continue the walk into my voice has been strengthened. I know that not everyone will find resonance in my writing. If everyone agrees, then my message is likely not worth writing.
Beyond these reactions, I am worried on a deeper level whether this community that I have so enjoyed is a place I should continue to share my art. If the group is not open to faith-based writing, then most of what I share becomes inappropriate for this audience.
The unfortunate result is that I may gravitate away from this wonderful community. Right now, I feel stifled in my creativity each time I consider further involvement with the group. I feel the suffocation as I consider whether to share my writing with these folks who have quickly become so valuable and encouraging to my growth as a writer.
At the same time, part of what makes meaningful relationships so important is the ability to disagree on topics, even important topics. If everyone has the same opinion on everything, there is no sharpening of skills. No growth. No challenge. No pushing each other to get better. To write stronger.
I am still in process on whether to step away from this group right now. The benefits to me as a young writer have been overwhelmingly positive. But the constriction on my art might overwhelm the goodness I would gain moving forward.
There are several individuals in particular who have given me strength to keep writing, keep pushing, keep risking. I hope I do not lose these mentors if I pull away from this writing group. But I value my momentum as a writer, my creative push, more than anything else. Even if it may cost me community.