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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

Every time a woman picks up a pen, I feel stronger.

A long time ago, before the age of the internet, I belonged to a group of writers that met weekly for over ten years. We met in the living rooms of each of our homes sharing the circulating responsibility of providing food and facilitation for the evening. We critiqued, we wrote, we talked, we gave performances and workshops. We made a documentary and received grants. And while it’s been more years apart than those we were together I carry the gift of this circle with me each day.

We had a few basic rules. The first was no apologies for your work, none. The second was that the author asked for the kind of critique she wanted; heart – based on the feelings that the piece elicited, craft how well the piece accomplished what the author wished it to. Adhering to the recognition that pieces could be brought in at different stages, raw or revised or ready to send out. The third, and I believe the reason we stayed together so long and so consistently, and why we are still in touch was trust. What was said between us remained between us. We all recognized the best of who we were. I believe we still recognize the best of who we are. While it’s not possible to recreate what was, I wanted to honor the ways in which what was, resides in what is.

Now, I am part of a monthly “salon” where each woman takes a turn at organizing the afternoon around words and writing and creativity including food, I always leave feeling reenergized. Also, four of us, who have written together over the years in various configurations, meet Thursday mornings at the library to share a common space and time for our own individual pursuits. We offer each other company and a reminder that work is shared even when done alone. For the past four years my steadiest writing community has been virtual.  We met at a Natalie Goldberg retreat and have seen each other in person only 2 times since then. Still each Sunday we do writing practice together via Skype. Sunday Writes.

A writing community can be sacred or mundane, it can serve for a week or for decades. The act of writing is solitary by nature, but a community of writers nourishes heart and nurtures craft.   Where do you find your community of writers?

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