Flashback. It’s January 2010 and I decide to take a peek at Meetup.com, that vast, amazing electronic bulletin board of group activities everywhere. It was a vulnerable time for me. I had just lost my brother, Michael, taken much too young by a rare autoimmune disease, and I was looking ahead to a milestone birthday that was making me cringe. Partly, I was curious and seeking new connections, but mostly I was hoping to find a community of writers. I’d slogged through a bunch of drafts of Shrink Rapt and deluded myself that it was ready for publication.
I entered my zip code and searched Meetup for creative writing groups. What are the odds of doing that and finding the world’s best critique group, right there in your own community, whose meeting schedule fits your own calendar as comfortably as an old shoe? That’s how lucky I got.
So for the past five years, at least two of my Sunday afternoons have belonged to New Providence Writers. We meet over lunch (these days, at Waterlilies, a superb Asian restaurant in Summit), read and share feedback about our work. Most of us are novelists, but we get our share of poets, memoirists, self-help and other nonfiction writers. Our genres vary, but we get each other. I’ve seen my own writing grow exponentially, thanks to all I’ve learned from my NPW friends, and seen theirs grow as well. An increasing number of us are now published, mostly indie, and we’ve educated each other about the business, as well as the art, of writing.
I don’t expect to be this lucky twice. I’ll seek out other writers in SC, but I suspect I’ll be leaving the treasure in NJ. Thank you, my fellow writers, for a million things, including, but not limited to:
· Saving me from the embarrassment of trying to put Shrink Rapt in print before it was remotely ready
· Boosting my confidence a hundred-fold
· Treating me to readings of your works in progress
· Sharing our successes as we brought our stories to fruition
· Sending me home from meetings eager to make revisions
· Sharing laughter and friendship
· Teaching me probably the equivalent of an MFA program’s worth of writing knowledge
· Lending support (and reviews) when needed
· Being generous and constructive in your feedback
If you’re curious about New Providence Writers, check out our page on Meetup.com and our group website, the creation of our former Organizer, Sidney Nesti.