Crossing the Sahara (it goes better in groups!)

I thought I was through with writing.

In November, I “won” NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by putting down 50,000 words over 30 days.  With Christmas coming up, I figured I would take a writing break until the New Year.  However, that one month break spread into January and then February.  I wrote sporadically at best; my weekly meeting the only consistent time where I knew I would get work done.

I gave myself a break by making excuses.  I was busy.  I wanted to focus on doing more reading.  I would get back in it over the summer.  It’s just a dry spell.  I have writer’s block.  

But I knew they were all lies.  

I wasn’t busy.  I wasn’t exactly cleaning out the local public library.  I was about as likely to get back into it in the summer as when I said I would get back into it in January or the spring.  It was a dry spell in the same way the Sahara had hit a dry spell.  And I wasn’t blocked.  You kind of have to try to write to be blocked.  (Honestly, writing came to me easily enough when I actually sat down.  I just never found the motivation to sit down.)

As a teacher, summer was the last resort, but the less structured expanse of day off after day off made me less disciplined, not more.  I wrote once a week–if that–when I met up with my fellow group members.

As the school year approached, I started to mull over the different ways I would tell my group that I wasn’t planning on doing NaNo this year.  That I was maybe not going to continue writing at all.  But then something amazing happened.  The school year started back up, and my whole family resumed our routines.  For me, this meant spending a minimum of 30 minutes at the computer every night (from 8:30-9) after putting my youngest daughter to bed.

That was over two weeks ago, and I feel like a writer again.

So, in a way, this blog post is a thank you to my writing group.  They kept me grounded.  They were my lifeline.  I would have quit writing no-doubt-about-it if not for their support.  The unconscious responsibility that comes with belonging to a group kept me hanging by that thinnest of thread until I could rediscover my inner desire.

It’s been two years since I met these people.  Since then, I have completed a novel I started ten years before that, finished the first draft of a second, began the editing process on it, put down 50,000 words of my memoir, and written the best short fiction of my life.  And I’ve contributed a few blogs along the way as well.  I’ve also become a better writing TEACHER (I teach English at a high school).  And all because a few folks every week meet up at a coffee house to do our thing.  It is kind of special.

Thanks, guys!

Chris and the Wordwraiths! 

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