Monday, March 6, 2017

Writing and the Distractions of the Outside World

Our Women’s Writing Circle was on winter hiatus in February. I missed our group and look forward to this Saturday when we gather around a lighted candle and explore writing. Our Circle offers that sacred space to write a story that lives within you, that only you can tell … to be with other women whose journey encourages yours.

That said, a winter hiatus, of being alone, have an upside; becomes meaningful for the writer. A certain requisite reflection accompanies staying inside on a bitterly cold day. We tend to be loners, solitary creatures, anyway.

I always say when we first open the Women’s Writing Circle and light the candle that this is our time to “shut out the distractions of the outside world.”

Is that even possible anymore?

I met a man this week. As we got to know each other, we talked about changes in reading habits among the public. “Certainly, there are enough distractions to understand why most people can’t get through one book a year,” he said. “Books require a different kind of concentration (from tweeting and posting on Facebook). And there are so many books out there, it becomes difficult to initiate a conversation about any one book that many have read. I suppose that’s why there’s book clubs,” he said.

In another era, everyone read the same books … you know the ones: The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, 1984 (although dystopian novels have enjoyed a resurgence), To Kill a Mockingbird.

He and I also talked about writers posting their politics and political musings on their Facebook pages. Can it alienate potential readers?

“Isn’t controversy good for a writer?” he asked. “Any publicity is better than none, right?”

When it comes to writing, I feel that writers can’t be tied down to good manners and tactfulness if they have something to say that matters to them. After all, we aren't psychologists, we aren't arbiters of civil discourse, we're writers. 

Writers might be convinced in this day of social media and internet that being honest feels right.  At the same time, I feel we should question when it becomes a distraction from the real work at hand, contributes to a lack of focus, tempts us to journey down a dark path.

In the Women’s Writing Circle, we share our reflections, possibly a new sense of activism, an urgency to step out of the shadows. We share fiction, memoir, poetry, discuss literature and the craft of writing.

As we light the candle on Saturday, I look forward to celebrating the renewal that comes with spring. It’s an unblocking of sorts, a way to blossom after winter, of letting our voices be nurtured and heard.

Harbingers of an early spring are everywhere and have been for weeks; the lavender crocuses blooming under my neighbor’s elm tree. A dusting of snow on daffodils. Writing continues to consume and renew me. It leads to ever-greater discoveries, new people and new terrain; a refuge, hopefully, from the craziness―the lack of attention―in which we live.

Your comments and thoughts about the distractions that challenge you as a writer are most welcome.

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