It’s been a long winter. Record low temperatures in Northern Ontario gripped us early and just wouldn’t let go. Biting cold days followed by dark nights left me huddled inside seeking warmth. Despite my good intentions and a fairly well-established routine, extended illness, family issues, and the pressures of work smothered my writing goals like the thick layer of snow covering my summer garden. I was having trouble shovelling past all of the excuses to just sit down and write.
Last week, after two missed meetings, I finally returned to my local writers’ guild. It was critique night: an opportunity for writers to have their work read and discussed by others in the group. I looked around at the assortment of individuals, all at various stages in their writing lives. Some are published authors and others are awaiting that first acceptance. Some write full-time, while others, like me, are writers with day jobs, trying to carve out those precious moments in our weeks to pursue our passions. It struck me that this was what I had been missing during these long winter weeks. This community of writers, come together to support, teach and encourage one another, is like a breath of spring air, reviving me from my hibernation. Before long, ideas started to bloom and I couldn’t wait to face the blank page again.
When you are a writer you understand what it’s like to sit alone in that chair, with only the computer screen glaring at you, daring you to begin. You also know what it feels like to hit send, to usher that final copy into the world for others to read. You know the sinking feeling when you receive a rejection and the delight when your piece is accepted and published. It can be a solitary existence. As much as you share with your family, friends and colleagues, they don’t really understand how important the writing is to you. The only people who can really comprehend are fellow writers. They know the coldness of the white page and the warmth of the black text: a garden of ideas sprung from your own imagination. This community, whether in a workshop, online forum, a writers’ guild or a classroom, becomes an essential part of your writing life. They know who you really are inside, because they are writers too. And sometimes that’s just what you need to dust off the snow and get back in that chair to write. Just write.