I've never been much of a joiner. From grade school right up until today, I have, whenever humanly possible, avoided joining any groups.
I've never been much for rules and bylaws, so if a group emits even the slightest whiff of organizational groupiness--I'm outa there!
I Blame Peggy
In sixth grade, a whole gaggle of us girls spent months of our recess and lunch hours engaged in wickedly epic games of hopscotch.
That is until Peggy went all Norma Rae and decided to organize us.
Her first order of business was to regulate the size of the hopscotch squares so every grid was symmetrically the same. You know--to be fair. (I'm certain Peggy has continued her love affair with the slide-rule, or, she's dead--killed by someone who can't stand symmetry.)
Anyhow, once she started systematically checking the bean bag place markers we tossed for their weight, size, and color conformity...I jumped ship.
I knew I'd loose my mind in that group of hopscotch nazis. Instead, I decided to while away my free time reading or flirting with boys. It was time well spent.
I Love Books Just Not The Clubs
Over the years, I tried book clubs but the expectation to finish a book by a certain date took all of the enjoyment out of reading for me.
First they want you to:
Read a book that has been assigned to the group.
Then you are expected to research the author, know and have read all of their other books, be able to quote passages, and sound smart doing all of that.
I found myself time and time again staying up until 2 a.m. the night before book club trying to finish the piece of shit book that rambled and made absolutely no sense, knowing full well I could never regain those lost hours of my life.
No fucking way.
You know what that's called? College.
I'm a Jeweler Not a Joiner.
When I first started as a jeweler back in the late eighties, surprisingly, there weren't that many women in the business.
Hence, to acquaint us all with each other, there was a local chapter of a Women In Jewelry Something-or-Other that continually reached out to me. They held a monthly get-together after work at a local hotel bar or better yet, a guest expert would give a mind-numbing lecture accompanied by wine, cheese, and limp crudités.
I tried, I really did, but in all honesty, I would have rather gotten a bikini wax.
So that just reaffirmed my aversion to groups and I also learned:
Jewelry lectures, cheap wine, and limp crudités make me want to commit Seppuku with an olive fork.
Groups and George Clooney
So you can imagine my shock and horror when six months ago, I, me, of sound mind and body, found an amazing writing tribe.
I had launched an extremely detailed one woman search making sure to sidestep all of the groups of struggling writers. And there are many. They sit in circles and complain about missing deadlines and suffering writer's block. They drink gin and eat Wheat Thins. I became discouraged, thinking that everyone who writes is riddled with neurosis and has bad taste in snacks. I wanted to be around successful writers. Writers who have full and interesting lives but still manage to sit their asses in the chair and write--and occasionally get published.
AND have fun along the way. I don't believe writing has to be one of the Dark Arts.
I found them online. A group of sassy, sensational, accomplished and funny women writers. When I sent them an introductory email I actually cringed when I hit SEND. All of my book club bullshit and hopscotch hell experiences came circling back around.
Why did I think this would be different? What was I getting myself into? What in the hell was I thinking?
I haven't the faintest clue.
But unlike those situations from my past-- I'm having the time of my life with these women!
We all just returned from writing in Mexico. Did I say writing? I mean guacamole fueled and salt water inspired bouts of creativity the likes of which I never dreamed existed. Let me tell you, these gals are FUN.
And you wanna know the best part? Most of them are self-confessed non-joiners too!
All of my protestations remind me of that eternal bachelor, George Clooney, who when confronted with a woman so right for him, that he could barely contain his giddiness as he RAN to join the club of which he swore he would never become a member--HUSBAND.
Lord have Mercy.
The moral of this story? I guess there are several.
Everybody benefits from a tribe.
Ditch the attitude and dump the labels.
Things change. People change. I changed.