KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Learning in Retrospect

To our delight, Normandi Ellis has moved back to Central Kentucky and rejoined KaBooM. She’s a gifted writer, an inspiring teacher and workshop leader, and a woman of wisdom. We’re happy to have her with us again.

As we embark on a new year, she’s leading the group in a series of exercises looking back at the year behind us and ahead to the year to come. These are taken from a workshop she offers at the beginning of every year, called The Night of the Mothers. It’s an energizing way to assess where we’ve been and discern where we want to go.

This week we considered which month of the past year was our “lead month,” the one that gave the year its direction. We sifted through twelve months of calendars, checkbooks, or emails to find the place that held some kind of shift: a birth or death, a beginning or ending, a change in finances, work, health, or family. We then spent ten minutes each writing about that month, the previous month, and finally the month following.

As I paged through my calendar, I realized that I almost never take time to do this. Trying so hard to move forward, I rarely look back with this kind of intention. Moments from the past remain with me, but patterns are much more clear with a review of days I might otherwise forget.

Those patterns can teach us about ourselves. We learn what helps us respond to challenges, and what helps us live a full life. In becoming familiar with patterns that have unfolded in our lives, we can better recognize them when they show up again. And we are better able to choose whether to repeat them, or not.

Looking back can reveal surprising insights into the conditions that allow us to work creatively and productively, which is step one in trying to recreate them as best we can. In looking at how we spent our time, who we were with, how quiet or busy our days were, and what captivated us, it’s easier to see what worked and what didn’t. The things that energize and those that weigh us down become clearer.

It took an hour or so to do the exercise and for each of us to read back some portion of what we had written. It led to a deeper understanding not only of our individual lives, but the collective energy of the group. Sharing those words allowed us to hold the year with the support of one another, witnessing the change, loss, learning, and growth we experienced.

It was one of the richest hours I’ve spent this year.

Contrary Needs

As a writer, I have two strong and contrary needs, one for solitude and one for community. I once spent a month at a retreat where there were specific rules about community and solitude. Writers and artists breakfasted together and shared the evening meal, but between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm there was to be no conversation. These rules demonstrated the perfect understanding of the contrary needs of the actively creative person.

I don’t live in such a place now.

In solitude, the need I’d say I prefer to gratify more, I write with delight and anguish in private. It’s delicious to be alone with the imagination in a protected space where anything is possible. But, if the post man always finds me in my pajamas, or my children do after they’ve been at school all day, then I have some ‘splainin’ to do. Is this normal? Am I normal?

A community of writers validates this private self. It  offers the opportunity to talk with people who know the vocabulary, practice the struggle, and read books in a similar way. They understand a publication in a small magazine with a readership of less than a thousand is a coup, an occasion for a hand spring when it arrives at the door, much to the befuddlement of the post man.

It is fun to socialize and to feel a part of a community of like minded souls. Hearing a good reading, discussing a problem of construction, or a brand new excellent book or a bad one, links to the happiness inside: I am a member of a tribe. I belong here.

Sometimes this sense of belonging is too seductive, drawing the writer into on-line discussions or too many post-workshop get-togethers and the private life of writing suffers.

When I have over-indulged in community, I long for solitude and return to my desk, dreading meetings, feeling akin to Charles Dickens, who once said, that knowledge of an impending appointment can ruin an entire writing day. I feel that way, too, if my writing must be curbed for a meeting, even if I likely can’t sit for five hours in my chair until the appointed time. It’s the idea of interruption that adds anxiety to the act of writing in solitude.
Yet, in this 21st century in America, I appreciate the opportunity for both privacy and community. It seems a fortune to be able to reconcile the contrary needs. Thank you, fellow writers, for claiming this strange compulsion for self-expression and for insisting its needs be met.

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