The Monday Muse: Community

Welcome, readers, to the Monday Muse! You’ll notice that I am not scheduled to be today’s Muser, but my other half is swamped beneath the pressures of theater. So forgive me for any perceived drop in quality, as I was not expecting to write this today. I really must work on my ability to write on command.

Now, today, I would like to talk to you about community. No…not the show, though I do love it. I mean in the sense that we are social creatures. Humans are not designed to be alone or isolated; we require interaction. There is a reason that solitary confinement is a punishment for prisoners and grounding for children (well…I admit, I got by pretty well so long as I had my books, but even they represented a form of community), and antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a marked disregard for one’s fellow man (or creatures, really). It’s unnatural for someone to repudiate community. Even people who don’t require a lot of interaction need something. Even if that is one or two people.

Community is important. It is especially important if one is in any way creative. In that case, our community is more than just our sense of belonging…it’s our brain trust. We share our ideas and hear theirs in return, expanding our own views and learning so many different ways of doing things. They feed us and help us grow. They help us out of our ruts and help us untangle the knots (especially when you write yourself into a corner, as I’ve done more times than I care to count). When it’s time to step back and let things sit, they’re the ones who keep us thinking about other things.

In the case of A and I, they’re there to write blogs when life gets in the way…or help you plan out the chapter where you pretend to kill Mercutio because all you ever wanted to do was keep him alive and so you decided to write a book together to get it done. (What? You never wondered why we decided to devote an entire day to Shakespeare?) I’ve helped her when her world building hit a snag and she’s listened to me ramble on about the logistics of planning a fight scene. And about my world building, because both of us are actually inclined toward fantasy writing, though none of our projects seem to reflect that.

Why am I going on about this? Well…think about it. I’m a writer, but pretty much any creative endeavor is solitary. It involves putting words on a page or paint on a canvass, or hours practicing chords. I’m also a cellist…believe me when I say there is no pain like training the muscles of your bowing hand while simultaneously developing blisters on the tips of the left. It involves memorizing lines and staring inward until you feel like you’ve run your psyche raw. Yes…the product is always communal in nature; you play that music, perform that piece, share that art or story…but the creation is you and your imagination forging something from the firmament. And as I said, humans need community. It’s what keeps us going strong.

So…find a group. It doesn’t even need to be in person. I’m a millennial (one of the early ones…please do not communicate to me in emojis), so I definitely count on-line groups. Get together and share your ideas. Workshop together and allow these people to critique your work. Critique theirs in return. Don’t be rude or overly harsh…make the criticism constructive, and expect the same. Share your stories and allow them to bolster you. Create a community. Because I can guarantee that nothing will make your work better than to allow these people into your world and to enter theirs in return.

OK. This has been me, filling in for her, with the Monday Muse. We’ll see you again on Friday with some books! It’ll most likely not be me.

-C

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