Over the past five years, my writing circle has expanded significantly. Or rather, I've gone from one circle of writing friends to several circles, and this summer, my circles are beginning to collide, in all the best possible ways.
My first writing circle is right here at What Women Write. Our group of six writers came together about five and a half years ago in Texas, and we've been writing and critiquing together ever since.
My second writing circle is one created by the long distance bond between my agent, the editor I worked with on a second draft, and the community of people passionate about books and bringing a new story into the world, and me.
The third circle is my Hindman family, and I can only call it a family because that's what it has become. We all met deep in the hollers of Eastern Kentucky, where most of us are from, at the Appalachian Writers Workshop. Just last week, one of my Hindman sisters came and stayed a few nights with me here in Texas. This circle includes writers many readers have heard of: Robert Morgan, Silas House, George Singleton, and Barbara Kingsolver. And it includes my close friends— writers you haven't heard of yet, but soon will—Donna McClanahan, Denton Loving, Mark Powell, Wesley Browne, Tia Jensen, Catherine Childress, Robert Gipe, Carrie Mullins and more. Writers I'm proud to call friends.
My fourth writing circle is the new group of cohorts and faculty at the University of Tampa's MFA in Creative Writing Program. The visiting authors top the New York Times Bestsellers list, and my professors and mentors are incredible wordsmiths as well. Alan Michael Parker and Corinna Vallianatos have given me intense feedback on my own words already, and my new friends from school are ones I will carry with me throughout my writing journey. A few, like poet Mona Bethke and the fiction writers I've workshopped with already feel like friends for life.
This week, I'm embarking on a new writing journey: I'm currently attending the Sewanee Writing Workshop in Sewanee, Tennessee. Here, my circles overlap. Friends from Hindman will be workshopping with friends from Tampa. We'll have threads of commonality weaving through the room. My agent is a longtime supporter of writers and instructors from this conference, and has represented both faculty and fellows from Sewanee.
How does this help my writing, you may ask? What is the benefit of these writing circles? Writing, after all, is a solitary and lonely profession. How can knowing more writers help a fledgling writer like myself become the writer I want to become?
I can only say that to know you are not alone both when you struggle and when you celebrate is a joyous gift. Expanding and colliding circles of writers bring people together with similar joys, fears, roadblocks, and triumphs. It pushes me forward. It keeps me on track. And friends—especially writing friends—are always good to have. Who can argue with that?