Friday, January 07, 2005

Our Post-Holiday Writers' Salon
Gets the Year Off to a Nice Start

'In January everyone is something of a Buddhist.'
--From a recent New York Times article on the wonders of tofu and the general instinct to purify the system after weeks of holiday indulgence

Thanks to a wonderfully eclectic and imaginative group of two dozen writers and thinkers who gathered together at Talkies coffeehouse last Tuesday, our inaugural Writers' Salon was a sublime success. Credit my co-host Anton "Mister Sugar" Zuiker for the key original idea. His use of the word "salon" got our minds moving in fresh new directions for a new year. Certainly we didn't need another writerly event, with particular subjects, speakers or formal panels. We're drowning in those already. Nor did we need another class on how to better pursue this or that aspect of the craft (there are already some excellent resources in that realm, which I'll be pointing to all year). And of course we have plenty of purely social events, where writers and other creatives gather to gossip and blow off steam, and avoid getting back to their blank pages and screens.

But because of the special time of year, the wonderful location (the fireplace-appointed front room of Talkies) and especially the pleasing assortment of people--several of whom almost never come out for live events--the tone was special. It just felt different, somehow. A couple of post-event email comments nicely put it in perspective. "I forgot how much I missed those people," said one writer, who's been out of the circuit for a little while. "Thanks. I just need to come out of my hole every once in a while," said another.

Which is what it was all about. Writing can be a dauntingly solitary slog, at least when done right and pursued over many years. And when you add in our uniquely dreary, sunless winters (which, as I've written before, lead to low-grade depression in this region), the need for regular fellowship, for a gathering together with the tribe, becomes all the more acute. We need to come together to provide each other emotional sustenance and support, to share ideas and resources, and to remind ourselves that we've come far in developing our voices and talents (even as we all know we have only begun to scratch the surface of what we might accomplish).

The point of this converging community is to arm ourselves with a network of low-hassle, easily available resources. By banding together into a deeper connection we can create our own place where people can turn when they need anything--advice, support, encouragement or whatever. A place where the experienced can send the aspiring for coaching and support, and the veterans can also learn some new tricks from the more energetic rookies. I feel good about the new year. We're watching numerous small threads that have slowly been coming together being weaved into a giant quilt in the year ahead. It's already happening, and a thousand points of light are behind it all.

We're beginning to think about our next salon, perhaps sometime next month (or possible March). The subject of the last gathering was travel. The next one will be about journeys, as well, only this time of an inner, spiritual sort. Stay tuned for details.

And for the curious, here's a list of those who attended Salon I:
Eileen Beal
John Westropp
Jim O’Hare
Kristin Hampshire
Kristin Ohlson
Susanne Alexander
Joyce Ashman
Debby Phillips
Anton Zuiker
Becky Meiser
Kathleen Colan
Jack Richiutto
Adele Eisner
Charu Gupta
Valdis Krebs
Ayad Rahim
Debbie Phillips
John Ettorre
Sandy Piderit
Sandy Woodthorpe
Jay Miller
Wendy Hoke
Tom Haines


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