By Martha Reed
Last weekend I took advantage of a Writer’s Retreat sponsored by the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime. The Retreat was held in Confluence, Pennsylvania. This was a bold decision since we were trapped for two days by rising floodwaters the last time we tried to pull this off.
I’m happy to report that all went well. The rental house was a surprise and a delight, the food was homemade, the workshops were insightful. What I want to talk about today though is what happens whenever writers flock together.
I’ve seen a good bit of this the last couple of months. First was Bouchercon in St. Louis, when there were 1,400 of us. That was terrific but it was like partying in a mall. It was so big there was no sense of intimacy – or if there was, it happened privately, behind closed doors.
The Retreat was different. There were only six of us and two were complete newbies. Do you remember the feeling you got the first time you discovered a gaggle of writers and you realized you had finally found your people? This weekend Jennifer said: “I’m so glad to know I’m not crazy. You really do talk about stuff like this.” And all of us wise (older) ones nodded. Yes, yes we do. We talk about imagination. And feelings like anger, betrayal, love, devotion, angst. Sometimes we discuss bizarre ways to murder people. Sometimes we hear voices telling us what to do and when we mention hearing voices the other writers in the room chime in with: “You’re so lucky” instead of calling for the men with the nets.
The sense of community extends beyond monthly meetings or discussion groups. One of our members is going through a rough patch right now. I heard three different women tell her “Don’t forget, we’re sisters. Call me if you need me.” And they meant it.
Writing can be a lonely profession. Silent contemplation is a big part of what we do. I think that’s what makes writers so wise. We tend to think things though. But if you’re feeling a bit adrift right now, try connecting with another writer. Call someone up. Make plans for lunch or a bike ride or share a bottle of wine and look at the stars.
Take a break and enjoy the craft. For once, the edits (and the laundry) can wait.
PS. This is awesome. Birds of a feather flock together: