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There’s Strength in Community

Variations of the Ordinary

The morning yoga class was full yet people kept walking in. The instructor didn’t turn anyone away and helped us inch our mats closer and closer together to make room for others. We began to look like children standing in line, waiting for the school bell to ring.

“Most people have difficulty creating their own practice at home because they like to be in a community of other like-minded people,” said the instructor. “There’s strength in community.”

Those words resonated with me, especially after I returned home and read an email from Vivian DeGain, a journalist and author. She told me the article she wrote about me was published by The Oakland Press (in print) on Sunday and through several digital media the next day.

“There’s strength in community,” I thought.

But what does community mean for a writer who isolates his or her self, sometimes for years, to complete a book? Writers are advised to sit at their desk and close their doors to the outside world in order to focus at the task at hand. True, this is a necessary discipline, but while writers need to write in isolation, cracking their doors open occasionally can help them get some fresh air, encounter adventure, and discover a rich and striving creative community in their backyard.

My first such community was the Rochester Writers Group, led by Marry Gibbons, an author who has been instrumental in nurturing the careers of many writers. That was over 20 years ago, and although the group eventually folded, I’m still friends with a number of writers who I met at that group. In fact, last week Mary and I attended a lovely gathering at her friend’s home.

More recently, the Detroit Working Writers (DWW) has served as a nurturing and inspiring community for me. At DWW, I reconnected with author Iris Underwood whom I was a student of many years prior when she led a journaling workshop at Troy Public Library. Iris became my mentor, and she not only has authentic stories to share but a lavender farm which I’ve fallen head over heels with. Shortly afterward, I got to know Cynthia Harrison, an author of nine books (and counting), whose stories of a young wife and mother trying to fit writing into her hectic routine reminds me so much of my life. She is a charismatic woman, a real go-getter. Within a short time of knowing me, she invited me to be keynote speaker for DWW’s 2017 conference. Then she nominated me to be vice president of DWW. Yeah, it’s hard to keep up with her.

Then last summer, I met Vivian DeGain, and we immediately clicked.  Vivian gifted me with the book Variations on the Ordinary: A Woman’s Reader, an anthology of poetry, prose and essay, written by Vivian and eight Michigan women and edited by the late and fabulous Margo LaGattuta. Reading the dedication – “For extraordinary women everywhere…” says so much not only about the stories in this book but also the essence of the countless talented people I’ve encountered in this organization. They understand and appreciate the strength of community. By inching each writer closer and closer to their goals and dreams, they help make room for others.


Link to article Vivian DeGain wrote: http://web.ncs.theoaklandpress.com/arts-and-entertainment/20170911/writers-seek-inspiration-at-one-community-many-voices-conference

To learn more about these wonderful writers, visit their websites:
Vivian DeGain:  https://viviandegain.wordpress.com/
Cynthia Harrison: https://cynthiaharrison.com
Iris Underwood: http://www.yuleloveitlavenderfarm.com