I am not by instinct or early training a group person but I have learnt, over the years, that, if I wish to achieve something, it pays to declare the intention. I feel obliged to fulfil the resolution, so ROW80 appeared to be a brilliant idea.
I joined in January 2011, at first tentative, remaining silent for many weeks, I watched, waited, I was a lurker. However, with increasing confidence I began to talk to fellow rowers. I discovered that life with a capital L gets in the way of us all in a myriad of forms.
I listened in awe to those who juggled work schedules and writing, family, social life and writing. Or even work, children, social life and writing🙂 How my mind boggled at their deftness in this skill. Then there were those who had an illness / disability in their lives or those of their families who seemed equally as deft in their juggling. All of you are a.maz.ing.
There was an incredible array of differences between us all, at first I thought everyone was young and bursting full of self confidence, that I would not fit in, but slowly, I discovered that all ages were represented here in this group, and none were truly self confident about their abilities to fulfil their ambitions to be authors. From greatly diverse backgrounds, and from all around the world, what we all had in common was the driving need to write.
But life can overwhelm one in a variety of ways.
Way back in time when the creatives in society starved and struggled in garrets, Life for a would-be author was a solitary and dangerous place to be. Solitary? I can see you nod your head in agreement. But dangerous? Oh yes indeed dangerous. With no normal interactions, consider this; we wander in alternate worlds, having conversations and adventures with imaginary folk:) There lies the doorway to madness and despair! Add to this solitary existence, Life, with its mischievous malicious whims – well, as I say dangerous.
What Kait has done here with her splendid invention was bring us from the garret/shed/spare room into a cheerful, light and airy social space. There is, at any one time, always someone who not only understands the solitude, the alternate world and the overwhelming urge to write, but who also has had the pain of putting writing on hold when Life has hurtled boulders before us. Created a space where we can relax, confide, confess and even boast a little –we all need to boast a little.
We can mingle with those who offer friendly smiles, a comforting word, can sympathise, empathise with our problems. Those who can assure us all is not lost, that the words remain and we will succeed. People, who cheer us on, encourage us to move around the boulder, who allow us the odd rest at the side of the road, help us to take a leave of absence for a while. And, if we take the last option we can be sure of a welcome smile on our return.
This past year, as many of you know, I have had life throw a flipping mountain in my way. Never have I been so glad I joined ROW80. Without the group here, and on Facebook, I might have foundered on that mountain, decided that truly at my age did I need to continue, maybe a shawl and cosy slippers were a better option. Finding my way back was hard but made easier by the ROWers. I am back this round because of all that goodwill. No boulder so big the ROWers can’t help one shift it.
We all understand Life and are all driven by this crazy, unexplainable desire to arrange, manipulate, and tease our language into new concoctions, to delight. The most amazing aspect of this group is how kind everyone is to each other; there is no professional envy/spite, merely writers united in a common cause.
The whole simple beauty of Kait’s invention is in this support and encouragement.