It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a writer has a nice way with words; yet, it is a pleasure to hear a difficult situation described succinctly and finish positively. Transitions are inevitable. Last week’s meeting about our local writers group transition is a reminder that twenty years of success can be upset by a few bits of bad luck. It’s true of artists organizations, corporations, governments, and people. The trick is taking on the right attitude.
“Our organization is now penniless, homeless, and leaderless. The only way we can go is up.” – Dorothy Read, leader and facilitator of today’s meeting
“Life is a wave. Your attitude is your surfboard.
Stay stoked & aim for the light!” – Drew Kampion, surfer and hard-working, casual community organizer
One meeting is not enough for a transition, unless royalty is involved. Communicating the bad news throughout a community, helping them grieve, and then listening well enough and long enough to find a new direction takes a lot of time. Time is the most valuable resource, and transitions are defined by how it is spent.
Last week’s meeting was the closest thing to an official announcement the writers have received. It was held and managed by the authority figures from the previous organization.
Today’s meeting was the first public opportunity for those interested in defining what comes next. There have been enough private conversations about the possibilities, some of which will probably inspire private or commercial initiatives, but there will always be a core that sees the value in public, non-profit, and collaborative organizations. The most powerful resource a writer has is another writer. Well, a reliable source of income is important, too.
The list of ideas, notes, and comments are available for members of the group through a variety of avenues. I posted my collected notes to the Facebook group, Whidbey Authors. My live tweets from the meeting can be found under #afterWIWA, or scroll through my Twitter feed under @tetrimbath. I’d like to include the list here because it is impressive what passionate people can produce in under an hour; but those specifics are best kept to the group.
In general, though, people want to work with people. What’s more fundamental than that? The rest are details. Events like classes, conference, workshops, writers groups, socials based around caffeine or alcohol and definitely around laughter, all are up for consideration. The resources of Whidbey’s writing community are extensive enough that people have moved here specifically for the writing community. That’s not a box on a real estate listing, but artists will find artists. My writing improved considerably after moving here thanks to a Whidbey Island Writers Association writers group. A lot of practice helps; but supportive critiques are always helpful. There is no end to improving an art. That’s why art can easily be a lifetime pursuit. It’s a pity it doesn’t pay better; but then, educators and healers aren’t paid well enough either. Money and value aren’t well connected.
Amongst the entertaining talk of possibilities and potential, there was an undercurrent of the necessary. Will there be a new organization(s)? How will it or they be structured? Who will lead? How much will it cost? Where will the money come from? When and where will it happen? What will be prioritized? Not surprisingly, those were the questions least likely to be asked and even less likely to be answered.
Leadership matters. So does listening to as many people as possible. Whidbey’s writers are dancing with that balancing act. Pick a direction and lead too soon, and possibly leave too many people behind. Take enough time to listen to everyone, and then to everyone’s responses to everyone else, and less patient people will launch initiatives.
By the end of the meeting I could readily envision 1, 2, 3, at least 4 individuals, make that 5, who could take one aspect and pursue it regardless of, or in service to, the community. I know I’ve already sketched out a possible way to rebuild a writers conference, which would invariably be counter to someone’s desires and expectations. (I think there’s a demand for a writers conference that concentrates on writing instead of publishing. I digress, but it does serve as an example.)
The transition I describe is happening with a writers organization, but we’re experiencing many transitions. Industries are shifting as fossil fuels are usurped by renewable energy. Politics continues to amaze within the US, the EU, and China. Climate and culture are replacing old norms with unknowns. The three-fold balancing act between ideas, resources, and leadership are happening in greater profusion and confusion than our species has ever witnessed.
I use the local situation to highlight similarities with the larger situation. Outside this blog, I’ll probably spend more time talking about the local situation because I have more connections, resources, ideas, and opportunities to act. With this blog and with my other blog, PretendingNotToPanic.com, I’ll focus more on the global because the audiences are global; and the blogs are resources where I can take simple actions to relay ideas and connections. One source of my optimism is that each of the more than seven billion people on this planet can do something similar. As the now old phrase reminds us, Think Globally, Act Locally. And, remember to listen.
“The only way we can go is up.” – Dorothy Read
“Stay stoked & aim for the light!” – Drew Kampion