A Writers’ Room of Requirement

loft2

The Writers’ Loft
Sherborn, Massachusetts

When I tell people I’m a writer, some of them have a hard time believing it. I’d like to think it’s not because they think I’m incapable of writing but rather because I’m an incredibly social and outgoing person…not very bookish.

Thanks in part to Hollywood—which paints an image of writers as people who need to move to Tuscany or at the very least to a sprawling, New England farm, complete with pond-front writing studio—it seems the average person assumes writing is a profession best pursued in solitude.

A common misconception.

No question, there are many successful writers who do have dedicated, solitary, creative writing space, like Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo, Gore Vidal (who’s writing retreat is on the Amalfi Coast). The operative word here is successful. No doubt the lucrative benefits of a prolific and extensive writing career have afforded them such comfort.

But, not all aspiring writers have the luxury of dedicated writing space consisting of more than a flat surface at home or even beyond their computers. Instead, many writers find solace in public libraries or coffee shops, where they can simultaneously be in the company of others as well as alone. Such spaces, however, are not always conducive for channeling inspiration nor even connecting with like-minded souls.

Aside from conferences and perhaps organized critique groups, there are few places where writers can go to connect with other writers, to bounce ideas off of, be motivated or just to be in the company of other people traveling the same path.

When I attempt to write from home, unless I’m on a deadline for someone else (work-for-hire), I am too easily distracted. There are a million things that seem to take priority over the self-indulgence of writing. Despite my desire to make writing my career not just personal pleasure, I guilt myself into believing that everything else comes first: laundry, housework, errands, the garden, the kids, eating, petting the cat, watching the sparrows in the neighboring birdhouse…SOCIAL MEDIA (please don’t tell me reading this blog post is keeping you from doing the same thing).

PLUS, I just don’t like writing alone

heather and sign

Writers’ Loft founder, Heather Kelly

Like me, my friend Heather Kelly does not like writing alone either. She finds inspiration, motivation and comfort when she writes in the company of others. She’s energized by the sense of camaraderie writing in a group brings her. We’re not alone.

For the past 10 years, Heather has been pursuing her writing career. Like most writing careers, hers began with her love of books, which spilled into discovering her talent for the written word. In her discovery phase, she attended workshops, conferences and got involved in online chats. Along the way she has connected with many other aspiring, published, or work-for-hire writers. Six years ago, when she launched her blog (Edited to within an Inch of My Life), these connections expanded further. Many of them were looking for the same thing: a place to be in community with other writers.

For a while, the online community filled this void. But blogging and social networking are so common place now that those communities have lost some of that intimate nature once reserved for the trailblazers of the blogging world. Heather needed her writing community to be more personal, less virtual.

This past January, Heather took a risk and did something about it.

Not all writers are introverts; a lot of us have deep extrovert tendencies. Sure, most enjoy the occasional block of writing alone—especially when they in a writing frenzy—but nothing brings more comfort than the warm bodies and clicking keyboards of fellow writers. Heather wanted to create that space.

So she began culling websites and local papers for office space to rent. Here’s what she found:

redbarnThis lovely red barn in bucolic Sherborn, MA houses an antique dealer and eight other office spaces. The best space, the dormered loft (pictured at top) running the length of the right side, was available in March. She grabbed the chance and so doing, established The Writers’ Loft 

Now in its third month, we are a community of 11 writers and growing…organically. So far we are all connected to Heather in some way and most of us are kid-lit writers. We come from towns as far as 30 miles away and gather to write alone, together. Some of us are just starting out, some have manuscripts and agents, and others are already published.

pancakebfast

Heather and the author flippin’ flapjacks

The space has two rooms, one with desks and chairs and wide-open floor for writing whatever way you find comfortable. The adjoining room is for events. It has a couch, café tables and open space where we’ve held crit group meetings, a pancake breakfast and an upcoming book launch party. But the possibilities are endless. We’ve talked about motivational workshops, guest speakers, wine-and-cheese mingles, book readings. All things book or writing related.

I’m lucky, I want to be a writer and I happen to be friends with someone who wants to help me (and many others) realize that goal. Starting something new can be an uncharted and scary endeavor but you have to look around and find the signs pointing you in the right direction. If you can’t find any, maybe it’s NOT the right direction. I’m a huge believer in signs and divine intervention, this is the one I found:

sign

I’m sticking with it.

Have you found any signs pointing in directions you needed to go?

For more information about the Writers’ Loft and to learn how to join the community, visit us at: http://www.thewritersloft.org/.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather Kelly
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 12:15:57

    Aww! What a great and inspiring post! I feel like this community has such a life of its own, and I LOVE the energy that everyone brings to the table. I’m still oscillating between feelings of complete wonder and being scared ****less about what we are undertaking. Luckily I have shut my eyes to the scared feelings and am happy to run on faith.

    I feel so privileged to tap my keys along side you and all the Lofters. So happy to have found this community!

    Reply

  2. growingmuses
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 16:49:56

    It’s just like competing in a triathlon my friend…if you can do that, anything’s possible!

    Reply

  3. Papa J Funk
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 09:37:03

    Normally, when writing, I retire to my French cottage. But on my last visit, my Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia accidentally knocked my manually-typed manuscript into the backyard pond. So I fired her and haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement.

    Perhaps this loft could be a good place to go until I sort out the French cottage housekeeping issues?

    Reply

  4. Kristen Wixted
    Jul 01, 2013 @ 12:55:59

    The Amalfi Coast is WAY overrated, btw.
    Sherborn is THE place to be.

    Reply

  5. Trackback: Tri, Tri Again | Growing Muses

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