Why Bother Taking the Time?
This weekend is my writer’s group’s annual retreat. We spend the majority of our days secluded in our private rooms to write, read or sleep and then mingle in the evening over a meal, movie or a stroll. This is not the first time we’ve retreated together, but it is the first time that I’ve appreciated the newer members of our group.
Over the course of the time that I’ve been a member of this group, at least fifteen years, new members have joined while other members have left. This particular group of women at the retreat consisted of some of the newer members, ones that I’ve only known for a few years.
My cohorts, I will call them Madge, Meryl, and Maggie, and myself, made for a smaller group, since two other members could not make it, but it gave the four of us the chance to get to know each other better.
It’s been said that nothing worthwhile happens in sixty seconds and anything that will last takes longer to develop. Consider how “friends” can be added and deleted from Facebook accounts with a click compared to friendships formed and maintained while spending time face to face.
These last few days gave me the opportunity to spend more time with the newer members of our group. Though they’ve come to monthly meetings, I did not really like or appreciate them for their unique perspectives, until now.
Take Madge for example. When she first started coming to our meetings, she felt like a burr under my saddle. She over analyzes points in a person’s writing that seemed trivial to me. Her questions unnerved me. Then yesterday, while sitting on the veranda of our villa, the group critiqued a piece of my writing and I had that unnerving feeling again when Madge opened her mouth. “I just don’t get what do you expect the reader to do with your statement that you make here”
“Nothing other than to think about it.”
“But it seems too important of a statement to just leave out there for them to consider without actually doing something with it.”
“Oh bother,” was my first thought, but then I looked over at Madge and really considered her. Her point of view about that sentence was different from mine. Not all of my readers will think like I do. Some will actually think like Madge. I pressed her to tell me what she thought I should do and smiled at her thought, it was actually a good one worth considering.
Then there is Meryl, the oldest and the most eccentric of our group. Her style of writing matches her fashions, a little out of this world. Though I respect her as a writer, I’ve never connected with her personally until just the other evening when we took a stroll after dinner. In the time it took for her to wear out from the walk, less than a mile, I discovered her sense of humor, her perspective about the unseen world, and her deep sense of contentment.
Finally, there is my familiar friend and member of the group, Maggie. Maggie’s personality is easy to be around. We’ve spent lots of years together critiquing each other’s writing, sharing ideas and points of view about topics. But, without having spent that time with her, I’d not come to appreciate and value her.
Why bother taking the time? Nothing worthwhile ever comes instantaneously, but when we do take the time, we will know that it’s been worth our while.