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Friday, April 12, 2013

 

Friday Speak Out!: In The Company Of Women, Guest Post by Julie Luek

Several years ago, I worked at a college. I liked my job, but I was missing the element of female friendship in my life. I’d read articles, with envy, in magazines like Oprah about the power of women companionship and wondered how I could find the time and opportunity to find female companionship within my predictable pattern of living.

My loneliness birthed an idea: I put together a random list of women I knew, across the various fields and hierarchies of the college, and invited them to meet for a glass of wine. Women, who would ordinarily not have crossed paths, began to meet, talk, laugh, share. Two years later, even though I no longer work there, the tradition carries on and fortunately, I’m still on that email list.

Our get-togethers didn’t quite end up like an Oprah article, but I forged new friendships and enjoyed the conversation and laughter that can only be found in the company of other women.

As I moved into a new phase in life, choosing to pursue writing full-time, I found myself having the same inner craving to find a group of like-minded women to share in the journey. Of course the argument can be well-made that the gender is inconsequential, but I have found, as with my work friends, the camaraderie and understanding of women to be soothing and resounding in my heart.

I have a couple online women writer friends who are my go-to people when I’m feeling stressed, stuck or wanting to celebrate. When I’m in a whining mode, before launching into problem-solving, my women friends will take the time to respond to the heart first, empathizing with my emotions.

A friend of mine and I recently made a “chat appointment” on Facebook to catch up with each other’s writing progress. She knows I’m in the midst of changing my genre focus. Instead of asking what I’m working on or about my goals, she immediately first affirmed my decision by reflecting on the talent she sees in my writing. Like sipping a good wine, I felt my insecurities relax.

Women writers are willing to tackle, not just the mechanics or goals, but to also talk about the more existential reasons for writing beyond a career choice. We are able to acknowledge and explore our journey as an evolving expression of who we are.

I want to be careful to avoid stereotype. I realize these qualities aren’t exclusive to being a woman. I also realize not all women possess nor want to dwell in the emotional and spiritual reasons for writing. But I believe there is a common language in the company of women who share our passion.

I believe strongly in the benefits of the community of women writers. So pull up a chair, and grab a beverage of your choice. Let’s rise above the sense of competition and toast our successes and empathize with each other on this journey. As women, we can be the support our hearts crave.

***

Julie Luek lives in the mountains of Colorado and enjoys hiking, kayaking and cross-country skiing. She is a freelance writer published in regional and national magazines. She is also a bi-monthly contributor to She Writes and a monthly contributor the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog, The Chiseled Rock. Julie maintains two blogs, A Thought Grows and In Fine Company. She loves making new writer friends and supporting and encouraging others on this exciting journey. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter and welcomes a friendly hello anytime.
 
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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34 Comments:

Blogger Sioux said...

Julie--I agree. There is something about most women. I have a small circle of friends, and a small circle of writing friends, and my life would be pretty pathetic without them.

(Publishing Syndicate's "Not Your Mother's Book" has a title called "Girls Night Out" that they're working on. I don't think there's a deadline yet, and I don't even know if you write creative nonfiction...I just thought I'd mention it. After reading your post, I figured you would have a story--or two--that you could submit.)

3:19 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Julie - love this post! I started a meet-up group to meet women in my area of town the first of the year. I've made amazing friends I would never have met otherwise. I opened it to men too at the beginning - but then kicked them out. "Off with their heads!". There is something about sharing life experiences with women that is great. I spend too much time writing and now I have a great support group to have fun with!

6:08 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Julie: I know we have never "met" but all your comments and posts on here and She Writes makes me feel like I know you a bit. :) And I just really admire your take charge spirit. When you are unhappy or unsatisfied with something, you take action. That is a wonderful quality and one we can all learn from. I love WOW! for all the women writers and I love my critique group which is also only women writers. I have been in a critique group with both, and yes, men are wonderful and comment on things that sometimes women don't think about. But there's nobody like a fellow gal to lift your spirits!

7:08 AM  
Blogger www.havetotewilltravel.com said...

I love the part about rising above our sense of competition. So true.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

When I was in my early twenties, I used to see other women as competition. But as I matured I really began to crave female companionship. Now I see my girlfriends as a gift! They are such an important part of my life. Like you mentioned, there's nothing like a fellow sister to calm your insecurities!

I also love working with women and prefer it. I don't know what I'd do without the wonderful team of WOW ladies! And all the fabulous freelancers. I recently read a study that said women penned a mere twelve percent of articles in the magazine industry. That's an incredibly low number industry wide! So it's great we have some places that are women only, and I don't care if guys complain about it. Heck, we need it!

Thanks so much, Julie! Beautiful post. :)

10:46 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's great you now have a place to share your writing goals.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Sioux--I'm working on developing a "real life" group of writing friends, but for now I have a pretty terrific online group-- good for you! And thank you for the heads up about the "Girls Night Out" -- I do write creative nonfiction, almost exclusively.

Barbara-- I laughed out loud at the "off with their heads" comment. I appreciate my male writer friends too-- they add a good balance. But there is something the "having fun" aspect, as you mentioned that can't be beat!

Margo-- that's great. I feel the same way since we interact, in as sense, here quite often. I belong to two different women writing sites and appreciate and utilize them both a lot.

Havetote-- ugh yes, it's nice to be at an age where competition is no longer a strong presence in my life, but instead mutual support and encouragement takes precedent.

Angela-- I envy your work atmosphere and situation. It's on my "goals in life" list!

Alex-- in addition to my blog and the balance it provides, yes, it's nice to have a couple other areas to share. Thanks for stopping by.

11:43 AM  
Blogger 2busy said...

I think women crave community, and sometimes that community is hard to find or inject ourselves into. Thank you for the ideas and thoughts on hows and importance of facility that in our lives.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

2busy- I think you hit the nail on the head with craving community and connection. I'm sure men do too, but maybe not always with such an emphasis on the heart connection.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

Once again, Julie, you have inspired me. I need to form a group like yours and make "girl time" more of a priority :) Having connections with girl friends always make me happier... I just sometimes forget how important it is :)

12:21 PM  
Blogger MP said...

I always feel better after spending time with women friends. A mom's dinner group (started when youngest was in kindergarten) that I was in petered out, and I miss it. I try to do coffee dates when I can. It seems hard to get a lot more going since people are busy.

As Angela mentioned, the WOW team is a great bunch of ladies (including Angela herself!). Too bad we're all over the country, so we don't get to hang out!

12:29 PM  
Blogger Jessie Humphries said...

I am part of two "girl's night" group where we regularly get together and share estrogen-induced laughter. And tears. And ideas! So fun.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Hi Angie--If you can't find the time (I know your life is busy!) there are a few wonderful online communities for women writers including WOW to tie into. I read and comment on The Muffin a lot just for that reason. I also connect with other writer friends on Facebook-- sometimes it's easier with little ones!

MP-- I envy and admire the community you must have, even from your individual desks. How wonderful! Like you, more of my time is spent on coffee dates (or tonight, a margarita date!) and I relish those too.

Jessie-- It seems like you're really good at connecting with other writers and women. Good for you! Thanks for stopping over.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Al Diaz said...

And to think just today I was talking about this matter. It has been enlightening to know your point of view about women and writing. :)

7:10 PM  
Blogger Melissa Hurst said...

While I don't have a group to meet with in real life, I am a part of a virtual group of women who write. It's wonderful to have a place to go to talk about writing or just life in general. I wouldn't trade that group for anything!

8:06 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Al-- you're a gem. Thanks, Al.

Melissa-- Oh good for you for finding a resource that works for you! Thanks for stopping by.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Scribbles From Jenn said...

Well said. I cherish the writing women in my life. I'm better because of them.

10:46 PM  
Blogger S.P. Bowers said...

There is so much to be said for having a community of friends and I love that you put one together when you were lacking one. And I be every one of those women are grateful too.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Jenn- thanks for stopping over. Our fellow writers (women and men, really) can be such assets!

SP- It is a gift.

7:05 AM  
Blogger T.J. said...

oh yes! I couldn't have made it this far without the women who've cheered me on. Including walking me through writer's block, laughing at life in general and being able to cheer others. There is the odd male thrown in, but it's been women.

8:40 AM  
OpenID mlswift.me said...

MOW here. Yeah...that's Man on Writing. Just following Julie, and I must say that it is so wonderful that you have a "support group" of sorts to lean on. I'm trying to find more men to add to my clique as well. There seem to be more female writers out there.

I guess if there were a MOW website, our newsletter would be "The Eclair." Great article, Jules.

9:16 AM  
Blogger M.L. Swift said...

T.J.

Are you calling me "odd?" :o)

9:18 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Tonya-- Yes, agreed-- both genders can absolutely offer that support, but like you am grateful for those gals I can hang with. You are my go-to and I appreciate it more than I can express.

Mike-- It's good to have a mix of people, writerly types and genders in our support-- helps keep us balanced, for sure.After all, I appreciate your support and encouragement very much.

9:21 AM  
Blogger L. Diane Wolfe said...

Women process thing externally, while men do it internally, which is why we like to discuss things more. That's how we solve problems and gain inspiration. A writing group like yours sounds wonderful.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Gwen Gardner said...

I miss spending time with my girlfriends - they're all in California. And I'm way shy in making new friends. I wonder if I'll grow out of it.....?

11:48 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Diane-- I do think men and women probably carry different gifts to the table when it comes to processing. You know the Venus/Mars thing.

Gwen-- I'm so so slow to make new friends, Gwen-- I hear you. I know people are drawn to you online and can only imagine that happens in life as well.

1:04 PM  
Blogger J. A. Bennett said...

I feel so supported by the writing community, they help me so much! It's nice that I get to go to a writer's group once a month too. Helps me get out all the stress!

2:55 PM  
Blogger Recovering Church Lady said...

YES, YES, AND YES! I love having women friends! There is a special bond and a knowing that happens when you share your true heart with a friend. My local women friends all moved away this last year, all 5 of them!! So I am leaning heavily on my new online friends, and I count you Julie as one of them. thank you for your encouraging words and for the job possibilities you send on to me. It means a great deal to this woman's heart!
Susie

4:39 PM  
Blogger Reese Ryan said...

Female camaraderie is so important to women. We are definitely wired differently and we need that companionship in a way men rarely do.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

J.A.-- thanks for stopping by. I'm so grateful for my great online women writing friends. How nice that you have a group!

Susie-- You've had a rough year! That's a lot of support to lose at once. So glad we can talk to each other and be a resource for each other.

Reese-- I so agree and that really was my point.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Carrie Butler said...

Virtual wine with Julie? I'm in! ;)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Sylvia Ney said...

Julie - WONDERFUL post! I love that you organized that group and am envious. Since becoming a stay at home mom I find myself often longing for female friendship. My blogging friends have slowly replaced the ones in the workforce. I love my family, but miss the companionship and connections only possible with females of similar interests and personalities. So glad you have one that supports not only your writing, but YOU.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Sylvia Ney said...

Julie - WONDERFUL post! I love that you organized that group and am envious. Since becoming a stay at home mom I find myself often longing for female friendship. My blogging friends have slowly replaced the ones in the workforce. I love my family, but miss the companionship and connections only possible with females of similar interests and personalities. So glad you have one that supports not only your writing, but YOU.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Jen Chandler said...

Julie,

This was a great post. I love the WOW emails that I get. This was no exception. It was encouraging and affirming to me just how much we "loner" writer types really do need one another.

Cheers,
Jen

6:00 PM  

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