This post is written to link with an online discussion at katemotaung.com on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today I’m posting on Chapter 9: Engage- I interact with writers, artists and others who support my writing.
“There’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understood. And understanding someone else.” (Brad Meltzer)
Bear with me while I talk about music for a minute- I will come on to the topic of writing shortly- but music is an area where I have more experience in interacting with other creative people and where I can relate to the concept of finding “my people”.
As Charity writes in the book, as we interact with others in this way, “the relationships provide camaraderie but have the potential to be competitive”. I can relate to that- some of my worst experiences as a musician have been in situations where there has been no camaraderie, but rather competition to the point of hostility. That is not an atmosphere in which I can thrive.
I’m grateful that the band I am part of now has allowed me to experience much more of the camaraderie aspect, and to enjoy meeting, and learning from, others who share my love of music. This was highlighted to me in June when we played at a gala day. We had to play and march in a procession through the town along with several other bands and community groups. It was not the best day for it- in fact it was pouring with rain and there was also a severe weather warning for gale force winds… but the show must go on.
We lined up with the rest of the procession and for over an hour, we played as we marched our way round the town. The rain never let up the whole time- water was getting inside the plastic folders containing the music, the ink was running and a lot of the time our playing was more down to guesswork than reading the notes. Water became trapped in our instruments, producing an interesting warbling effect at times. The wind was a problem too, especially for the bass drum player who was nearly blown over on a couple of occasions, almost taking out a few other band members along with him, as a gust of wind caught the drum protruding in front of him.
By the end of the march, we were freezing cold and soaked through. As we walked back to our cars people were complaining about how awful the weather had been. I hesitated, wondering whether to say what I was really thinking or whether they would just think I was crazy. I decided to take the risk- “I still really enjoyed it though.”
There was silence for a moment and I wondered if I should have kept quiet. But then someone agreed, “Me too,” and one by one the group chimed in saying how they too had enjoyed it despite the weather. Even in the difficult conditions the band had played really well, and there had been something about the atmosphere, the appreciation of the local people and their willingness just to keep going and do it anyway that had made it really special. That was the moment I realised I was with people who were on the same wavelength, who understood. Despite being different in many ways, we had something that brought us together. One of the others wrote on Facebook later that she had never really felt accepted before, and the band was a place where she had found that.
OK, back to writing…
This is the first time I’ve made any serious attempt to develop my writing, so this writing group is my main experience of engaging with other writers so far, but I feel that this is a place where I have found that same sense of being among people who understand.
I have loved interacting with and getting to know everyone who has taken part in this discussion. I have been finding the book so helpful, and I am getting even more from it through reading your posts and discussing it together than I would have done just by reading it myself. I am learning a lot by hearing different people’s perspectives, and I love that this is a place of encouragement and support, where people respect one another and cheer each other on.
And yes, I have felt understood. When I wrote about how helpful journalling had been, so many people in this group could relate to that and felt the same way. I don’t think that would have been true to the same extent with most other people I know, so it was encouraging to know that there are others who feel the same.
I think the fact that we are all Christians has helped too- it is something else we have in common and it is great to be able to talk openly, and on a deep level, about faith and know that people will understand.
I feel I have found a community online that I would struggle to find locally. I have plenty of Christian community, but not with people who write, and I began looking up writing groups in my area, wondering about the possibility of getting involved, and while there are a few, the thought intimidates me a bit. I don’t seem to be able to write without writing about God and I don’t know how people would respond to that, or if I would feel understood in the same way in a group of people who are not Christians.
Anyway I will pray about it and consider it some more, but for now you are “my people” and I am grateful for each and every one of you.