It's the weekend - and (with Peter away for a while) I can just browse and ponder this expanding world, the blogosphere, that I've plunged into. And it does feel rather like a plunge. In reading these blogs and comments, I've felt there was something familiar about the give and take, the self-expression and response, that I finally identified as very much like the experience I had for many years as a member of the Women Poets of the Twin Cities (later Women Poets and Writers of the Twin Cities).
We started when I was a college kid, and the first meeting (if I remember correctly) was held in my scruffy apartment on Grand Avenue, a block from my school. This was (it dates me) the beginning of the Women's Movement, as we called it then, and women writers in my burg were just beginning to recognize that they had been second-class members of the writing community, or felt themselves to be. The journal editors - the creative writing professor/gurus - the international poets coming in for readings and booze-drenched parties - all were men, and we writing women came along for the ride. So some of us, who had met each other at those booze drenched parties (and sometimes shared the same booze-drenched writers as romantic interests), decided we were interested in - each other, each others' voices, each others' ideas, experiences, wisdom.
This group continued to meet, once each month, and did occasional readings and published at least one or two collections over the years. A couple of women who started with us moved away into lives of being full-time professional writers, feeling perhaps that the group wasn't up to their level, or not appreciating that the primary purpose of the group was not so much to hone the craft as to share lives at a deep level through the writing that people were doing. There was one woman in the group who was a particularly influential mentor to me in the art of being a mother and continuing to have a creative spirit. I needed that model when I started my own family.
Alas, I couldn't continue to meet with the group (though some of the members are, I believe, continuing to meet even today, more than 30 years later). Raising children - working full time - teaching occasional college courses on top of that - and trying to finish my degree on top of THAT - consumed more than a decade of the prime turf of my green and growing years. I also found that what discretionary time I had was spent with my Quaker meeting (serving on committees, being involved on the planning group of our regional Spiritual Nurture program for some years).
But - now my young 20-something men are (more or less) launched - at least out of the house for the present. After wanting to find some way back into writing that offered more than the insularity of my journal, I finally started blogging.
I had read blogs - usually blogs of some of my favorite authors, which I found when I researched them on Google. These bloggers seemed to have so much fun doing their blogs, and they had such lively, affectionate blogging correspondents. I thought it was something that could only happen to published writers, or - I don't know. People living in London.
But plunging into it myself, I find that it is a very open community, much like the Women Poets used to be, where each voice is given attention, whether or not it is polished. We used to give feedback of the sort and level appropriate to the sophistication of the writer, and always with kindness and empathy. It never was a "professional writer" sort of place, but a community of soul-builders, supporting the development of self-understanding and the strengthening of our women's voices, through calling out what was strong and good in what was shared. That's what I'm finding now in the blogosphere - hundreds of women (and men, too, but I gravitate to the women's blogs), all communicating facets of their lives, from the hilarious to the trivial to the heart-breaking, and receiving, for the most part, thoughtful and warm-hearted responses.
My Women Poets group started out as part of a revolution - thinking we needed to give voice to the previously unvoiced women's perspective to bring the world into better balance (remember this was at the end of the Vietnam War). I love that women now have places to share their lives - old and young, home-schoolers and professionals, mothers and artists living on the bohemian edge. And creating community with others, full of laughter and sometimes tears.
Well, what you see is what you get. I'm at a point in life where it's not worth the energy to try to maintain illusions - for others or for myself. It looks like some of the some-day-I-will-accomplish-that sorts of things may not come to fruition, but I'm still busy doing work that seems useful, enjoying colleagues and friends, and learning how to do new things with computers. I love it when you comment and introduce yourselves!