Ever since I've been writing, people have asked me if I'm in a writer's group and I've always said no. Not that I haven't tried.
I've been in lots of meetings about writer's groups, emailed other writers to ask them if they were interested in a writer's group, tried to gather the women I'd met in various writers workshops into a writer's group, and even been recruited by other writer's groups to join up with them.
Still, somehow none of that ever stuck. Until now that is. Until (blaring trumpets and drum solo, please) the Powderfingers.
Finally, I'm in a writer's group and now I know what all the fuss is about. And, I wonder how I ever got along without our monthly get-togethers. Our group's name, by the way, comes from that Neil Young song about backwoods conflict, and being as we are from northern Michigan, the writers in my group are all about that.
I joined up to get some objective (and free) readers of my own work and for the comraderie. I'm pretty sure the other three women in the group joined for the very same reasons. And even though there are only four of us, we Powderfingers are kicking some serious literary ass.
Our veteran and Queen, Anne-Marie Oomen, fresh from finishing her third memoir, is debuting Chatic Harmony, a collaborative work of dance, language and art honoring Gwen Frostic. Our poet, Teresa Scollon, has a new book of poems forthcoming and just won an NEA literature fellowship. Our pragmatist and close reader extraordinarre, Heather Shumaker just signed a deal with Penguin/Tarcher for her parenting book. (Yours truly turned in her memoir and is a ball of anxiety, rolling around hither and yon, waiting for feedback.)
Bully for us, you may be thinking. But here's the thing. None of us joined the group to get an agent, a publisher, or a grant. We joined up to work. To become better writers, better editors of our own and others' work, and to feel connected to a writer's community. Even a small one with four members who can only carve out enough time to meet once a month in the cafe of a local grocery store. Behind the donut case and across the aisle from the liquor.
And that's what I love the most about being a Powderfinger. Our time together - however brief - still feels long term, as if it is a long-lasting part of a bigger whole, set off to the side from the momentary rush that sugar and book deals and alcohol and fellowships provide.
At this point, it's appropirate to give a nod to Mr. Young, for our namesake song and for this verse especially: "It don't look like they're here to deliver the mail."