by Deborah Elliott-Upton
What's better than spending time with people you admire for their skills? Last week I had a leisurely lunch with a creative group of women. The assortment of talent ran the spectrum of the genres in the writing arena: one was a playwright, one a singer/songwriter, another a novel-length young adult writer, a children's author who handles novels and picture books, a historical fiction writer, a romance writer and me, the lone mystery author. (For some unknown to me reason, although my area in the state is known for its abundance of writers, few choose to write mystery.)
An eclectic gathering, we spoke of our current works in progress. A few won't discuss their work until it is finished, several only with their personal critique group members and a couple said it depended on which work at which specific time.
I am one that falls into the latter choice. At the beginning of project, I tend to talk more about the basic idea with a few close individuals. This is more my way of seeing if the idea holds attention with the public as much as with me.
At that point, I tend to mull over the details of the plot and allow the characters to come to me with their own viewpoint. They need to talk to me!
Writing after this is usually kept more to myself until I am ready for someone else with a critical and unbiased eye to take a look.
This group -- like so many others in the writing community -- is less about stroking egos and more about supporting other artists in their artistic endeavors. Talking about writing to us is like finding a lifeline in a stormy sea.
Life hands out rejections like election ads during a campaign year: too many seem to bombard us at once. Many ads and rejections are too negative and lean on the nasty side. Negative remarks– whether they are meant to received as such or not– can bruise talent. I've heard each artist must suffer to find the truth in his work. Maybe. But I don't believe they must be beaten beyond recognition. Spread some of that random kindness around. Compliments are inexpensive and means much to the receiver.
Writers gathering to talk about writing is uplifting. It's good to hear what others are facing in their journey.
I enjoy spending time with people "new" to discovering their talents. Nothing is as contagious as passion.
The young playwright is reading every play she can find and attending avant-garde theatre productions. The singer is performing some new songs at a small town cafe. The young adult writer sings backup in the group. They're also collaborating on new songs together. The historian is finishing her novel and ready to take the next step to find a publisher. The children's author is finishing a six book series. The romance writer is new to writing and is fresh with anticipation. I advised her she is my newest protege and she didn't even laugh. (I like that in a writer!) I'm working on a hush-hush project I'm not ready to talk about to the masses. Soon though.
We laughed as we discussed introverts and extroverts and how even our small grouping was a combination of both. Writers don't come in one size fits all.
By the end of the lunch, we were full -- not just of the delicious food served (our singer is also a caterer -- lucky us!), but also of eagerness to get back to our own writings. Our own genres. Our own art.
Time spent with art and artists is never dull and always so very worthwhile. I think I just may mull on that thought for a few more days.