Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Arts Council Writers and Storytellers Group

Joining in the group...

The Columbus Arts Council Building on Main & 5th Street
One of the activities I looked forward to when I knew I was moving to Columbus, Mississippi, was checking out the writer's group that meets regularly every second Tuesday of the month at the Columbus Arts Council venue. More on that in a moment...

It's not easy to meet people being a newcomer to a town, where people already have jobs and friends and schedules and activities. And being retired, without having a work place to meet others, makes it even more difficult. I've been here now a little over three weeks. I've spent most of my time working at home, getting unpacked and settled in, trying to make the new house comfortable and functional for me and the girls (Ellie-Mae), the twin-sister calicos I adopted, and it has been a pleasure, even if at times a bit frustrating, because every time I get going full-steam on a project at home, I discover I need to run out and buy a broom, a tool, cleaning supplies, postage stamps, food.

I don't think it's a matter of distrust...even though,
at this point, I certainly feel like one of the
walking dead because of the move-in work I'm doing.
I've only had real contact with the workmen I've hired to come in and diddle with a few things that I don't have the skill or strong back to do myself. I've met the neighbors across the street, one of the houses next door, a woman across the intersection who came to introduce herself. And each of these encounters have been nice. But of course, right now, they're all strangers, and I'm the newcomer. I've also attended the newly minted MFA Writing Program student/faculty reading, a "fiddle" concert, and now my first meeting of the Writers' Group. While the people were nice and I was able to carry on sustained conversations with some of them, I'm still the stranger in town, the new comer, perhaps an unknown quantity.

Every time I've eaten out, I have had to go by myself. I don't mind, it's part of getting to know a place.

Luckily, I do the kind of "work" that will eventually put me into contact with precisely the kinds of people I want to have as friends. I'm an editor and writer, and I've been wanting to meet fellow writers. So I joined the writers group last night. One of the people in the group is kind of the facilitator. She calls on the various writers to read excerpts from their ongoing work. The group then discusses what has been read and conversation is lively. The meetings only last for two hours each month, so it's going to be a kind of s-l-o-o-w kind of acquaintance-ship before I think I will be invited out or will feel free to invite people to my house. Writers are by nature solitary when they write and only come out for meetings such as this to bounce their works off other writers.

The group number fluctuates, and last night there were only eight of us. If a group like this gets any bigger, however, it can hurt the function of the group, which is to read and listen and discuss each writer's work.

But there are ancillary activities and events that I discovered, since the meetings are held at the Arts Council venue, including other ways to express one's work as a writer and participate in other activities. I won't be participating in the Mother Goose Rhyming event for children twelve and under, but writing something for the Peace theme coming up in September of 2016 sounds interesting.

Just visit the Columbus Arts Council link on this page, right column. For a town this size, the CAC is surprisingly active and events appear to be well attended. As with getting acquainted and finding friends,  I know I will have to put out an effort to attend as many functions as I can. But I can say that in each of the events I've attended, and even the restaurants where I've eaten, there is a southern attitude from all that is welcoming, curious, and in the case of this town the usual question: why did you choose to move to Columbus? Over the course of these posts, I will be answering this question by implication.

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