BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
A year ago, I began to meet with my friends at least once a week to write, submit, and discuss writer politics. Making routine face-to-face contact with other writers has helped me immensely and helped me to cultivate a sense of community at a smaller and more intimate level.
In the past year, I have learned to write and submit with more confidence and have begun to recognize the profundity of ritual when it is shared with friends. Ritual is refuge and keeps us accountable. Here our a few ways we help each other on our writing paths.
Meet At the Same Time And Day Of The Week
My friends and I usually meet mid-mornings when our teaching schedule is light. Since we wouldn’t consider ourselves “early birds,” we find we focus best around this time at home. We also like to keep the late afternoons and evenings free to spend time with our partners/families. Making this time a priority is helping us to balance the various aspects of our busy lives.
Eat And Drink
As with many rituals, food seems to be a necessary component with writing and submitting. We always eat at a diner or restaurant in the same neighborhood beforehand. We usually spent this time asking each other questions or venting about concerns that have come up during the week. To spare the cost of eating out, you can always meet at someone’s house and low-key potluck.
After our meal, we go to a café or teahouse nearby to write and submit.
Create Loose Guidelines
Creating guidelines helps immensely with focus. All of the people in my group teach, so we have a rule about keeping teacher talk to a minimum. We don’t grade papers or answer school related emails, unless there is a pressing matter that needs to be addressed. Occasionally we do have days where we meet up just to grade papers.
We refrain against structured work shopping each other during these weekly meet-ups. Occasionally, one of us we’ll ask the others for the feedback on a piece of writing, but we’ve never devoted an immense amount of time to this. Formal workshops would definitely change the mood and dynamics of our meetings.
Also, if it seems like one of us is focusing on a particular thing, we try to give them time, before we talk to them or ask them a question. As we all know, once we are in the “zone,” we feel compelled to see where the writing takes us.
Keep Each Other Accountable Between Meet-Ups.
We try to send each other links of places to submit and helpful articles on craft. If there’s a residency, conference, contest, or job that might be of interest to your friends, try to relay the info before you forget.
Monique Quintana is a contributing wellness, fashion, and beauty editor for Luna Luna and a blogger at Razorhouse. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from CSU Fresno, and her work has been featured in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among others. Her work is forthcming in Clash Book's Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath and Alternate Current's Retell It Like It Is: Fairy Tales By Writers of Color anthology.