I’m a writer, and that means I spent a lot of years feeling like a kid standing awkwardly at the edge of the playground with a third arm growing out of someplace an arm shouldn’t grow. I tried to hide it most of the time, that arm, but occasionally I’d wave it around and people would look at it and say things like “Wow, that’s really great and stuff,” and then they’d run off and play with the two-armed kids, and I’d go back to doing freakish five-pointed cartwheels because, dang it, the world needed my five-point cartwheels and those two-armed people didn’t know what they were missing.
Analogies are fun.
Eventually, I moved to another city and met a whole bunch of other three-armed kids, and boy was that great. We did tons of cartwheels. And we did them together. And for a while we’d point at each other and say things like “Hey, your cartwheel form is a little off,” and “Thanks, I never noticed that before,” and “Boy, my third arm is so much stronger these days.” But after a while, we got tired of cartwheel judging and just enjoyed the company. And I realized that what I needed a lot more than for people to checkout my cartwheels was just the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of other people with odd numbers of arms and feel like we were all okay and kind of normal.
I’ve come a long way since those days, but I look around sometimes and see other three-armed kids in the area and they’re often asking around for someone to give them pointers on their cartwheel technique, which really just sounds like a chore a lot of the time and isn’t necessarily what they need anyway because I’m pretty sure what they’d really benefit from the most is a group of odd-armed people to get to know so they can feel like they are okay and then they’ll learn to do awesome cartwheels eventually because everyone else is doing them and cartwheels are fun and, wow, everyone’s third arms are getting stronger all the time.
Good job, analogy. Take a knee. (That was ridiculous, I know.)
The gift of being surrounded by friends who are writers is precious to me. It’s a powerful encouragement to live in community with people who know what it’s like to struggle with the craft, who understand the ups and downs, and who will tell you when to keep up the good work or when to put away the bad. But often when I hear of writers’ groups, the focus is on the sharing of writing and gathering of critique rather than the sharing of burdens or the simple enjoyment of laughter and community. It is my opinion that the better group to be a part of is the one that’s less about the writing and more about the writer. Writing is largely a solitary act, and writers need one another in ways broader and deeper than mere offerings of praise and critique.
To that end, I’m founding the Rabbit Room Writers’ Fellowship—something that sounds really formal but will hopefully be pretty casual in practice.
If you’re looking for a regimented critique group, you might want to look elsewhere, but if you’re a writer and you recognize your need for community, you’re welcome here. What will we do? Come and find out. It’s my hope that the Rabbit Room can provide a space and time for writers to find in one another what they need to grow as artists, as thinkers, as followers of Christ, and as friends. We three-armed kids need to stick together.
I’ll host the fellowship here at North Wind Manor in Nashville on Saturday, March 18th @ 2pm. There’s no price, and no prerequisite, except that you aspire to write and you bring a copy of a favorite book. You’re welcome here. We hope you’ll come.
If you’d like to join us, shoot me an RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you know a writer who needs this kind of community, please let them know they are invited.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.