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

13 Years of KaBoom; How on Earth Did We Get Here?

Lynn, Mary, Jan, Gail, Pam, Susan, and Leatha

A question I ask often myself is how on earth did I get to be this old? And the answer is always the same- one second at a time.  I am sometimes asked the same question about KaBoom. How on earth have we stayed together for 13 years? The simple answer, of course,  is one meeting at a time. But as with age, the simple answer doesn’t tell the whole story. After much reflection I have come up with reasons both general and personal that have contributed to the success of KaBoom. I am listing  these suggestions in the hope that they may help someone who is looking to create a similar writing group.

General

Size: Like Goldilocks, we have kept our group neither too large nor too small. Eight seems to be the upper limit to allow time for full discussions of each other’s work. We like the intimacy of a smaller group, but try not to fall below four in order to ensure a variety of opinion and style.

Membership: New members should be agreed upon by all members. It’s best to say no if there are doubts about someone before they meet with the group. All shoes do not fit all feet and all writers do not play well in group settings. If a problem arises with someone after they have joined, the others should approach that person as a group, explain their concerns, and try to reach a solution.

Place: A neutral meeting space has been important to us. It should be a convenient location with plenty of parking and a tolerance for raucous discussion. We usually don’t meet at a member’s house so no one has to clean up or feel obliged to provide sustenance and so all can simply enjoy being together.

Time: Pick a regular meeting time, recognizing that at various points in life, members may have more demands on their time and that these demands will fluctuate. Don’t sit there with a stop watch waiting for late offenders. Simply begin your discussion and let the late ones catch up when they can. Over time it always seems to even out.

Personal

Be tolerant. We are all struggling and sometimes the things that irritate us most about others are the things that secretly irritate us about ourselves.  Kindness is an important component of our group dynamics and seems to be the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine of honest criticism go down.

Be honest. If we don’t tell each other the truth about our work, believe me, someone outside will. Honesty fosters trust and although we don’t always agree with each other, an honest discussion enhances our work and helps us see it as other see it.

Be committed. You won’t always feel like going to a meeting, reading another manuscript, or discussing someone else’s writers block, but those times pass, and then it will be good again. If something isn’t working for you in the group, speak up before quitting. Anyone can quit, but not everyone can find a group of like minded people with which to share a creative life.

Have fun! This may be my most important suggestion. Laugh, tell jokes, and share life with one another. Don’t take yourselves too seriously even as you struggle to produce serious work. And maybe 13 years from now you will look at your writing group and marvel at the way time passes, one second at a time!

The Other Food for the Writing Life

At a meal I once shared with a charming five-year-old, the precocious kindergartener wasn’t much interested in finishing her lunch. “I’m full,” she insisted when her mother urged her to eat. But dessert looked good. Her mother logically pointed out, as mothers have done for longer than I can remember, that her daughter had said she was full. My young friend was undaunted. “Dessert is for my other stomach,” she replied. “It’s still hungry!”

There are two kinds of work that feed a writing life. One is the creative effort that allows us to bring a piece of writing into the world. It’s the expression of what we have to offer, refined and polished until it reaches the form that connects with a reader.

The other is the work toward the goals we have for our writing. It’s the task of finding places to send finished pieces, learning how to query agents and editors, and figuring out ways to promote our work.

Both kinds of work—doing the writing and finding its audience—are necessary if we are to connect with readers. But while I have a great appetite for the writing work, the business and promotion aspect is less appealing. This is what has me thinking of my young friend and her two stomachs to feed.

In this case, both kinds of food matter. If dessert seems dispensable to you, think of it as more of an Italian meal with a fish and a pasta course. Or a simple repast of soup and a salad.

The point is that in order for our writing to find readers, we need both a creative and a business life. We need quiet hours to work and social hours to connect with others. It can be hard to keep both going at the same time. But it’s important to not only write (and finish!) stories but to send them out. To not only edit poems but to share them at readings. To not only conceive of new essays but find new places for them. Our job is to make our writing as good as it can be, and to learn about the publishing world as well.

The writer in us will often think she’s had her fill of work, whether it’s one kind or the other. This may happen daily, or even more. At those times it’s good to remember the other stomach—the one that wants something different—and feed them both.

Rush Slowly

At the beach bar and restaurant near our rental unit, this motto is printed everywhere: on the backs of t-shirts, on the menu, as the name of the boat moored in the shallow bay. Most comically it’s scrawled across the screen of a pink cell phone nailed to the post that supports the bar’s canopy. You can’t help but come face-to-face with this piece of island wisdom as you place an order for rum punch or an iced bucket of Carib beer.

The barkeep exemplifies the motto in action. He blends pina coladas and gets them to the table in seconds. His rush is a controlled one, an economy of movement appropriate for a tight space. His eyes, however, stay fastened on the Caribbean and the distant cloud-covered vista of Nevis.

“Rush slowly” tantalizes like any other oxymoron, with its easy wit and mild tension. What might it mean? Is it good advice to take home, to pack in my suitcase next to the sack of nutmeg, the batiks, and the new recipes for Caribbean stir-fry?  Or is it a vacation platitude that resonates most strongly read on the back of a t-shirt through a beery gaze?

What does it mean to rush slowly? There’s the possibility of rushing to accomplish, to load a life with people, places, sensory observations, books, art, movies and other artifacts of culture, to engage in thoughtful conversations, to do meaningful work. To pack it in, to open it up, to be busy not for the sake of busy-ness, but for the sake of a full life.

Then there is the reminder to do it slowly, not with a hesitant or lazy step, but with a thoughtful one, with a mind that savors and reflects, considers and adjusts, takes in new information, processes and assimilates, seeks not just experience but also improvement and change.

From my terrace overlooking Turtle Beach, I hear one man call to another, “No problem.” I knew this island motto already and saw great wisdom in it. But as a general directive for living, there’s probably more to be gained with “rush slowly.”

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