A month ago, I wrote a post about how difficult it was for me to write a new novel during this anxious period before my first book launches. I hadn’t looked ahead on the Debutante Topics Calendar, obviously, because “writing book two” is the assigned subject of this week’s posts. Fortunately, I don’t need to rehash that earlier lament, because — though progress on Book Two is still glacial and easily derailed by marketing worries surrounding Book One — I’ve found a place to work that I believe will help me find the creative focus I need.
That magical Nirvana is the Hivery, a nascent women’s collaborative in my hometown that just opened up a workspace I can walk to from my house. The Hivery offers a gorgeous environment with blazing WiFi, five soundproofed conference rooms, and a full kitchen, but it’s far more than just a great office. The idea behind the Hivery is that women work best when they support one another, and when they have a place that fosters the creation of meaningful work. As their website puts it:
What all members of the Hivery have in common is an inner drive to find “work” that fuels them, challenges them, pushes their potential, and works in the intricacies of their lives. It may be “work” in the traditional sense of the word, or it may be broader, bigger, creative, and even a little crazy. We, at the Hivery, really like that kind of thing. We love big ideas, lots of support, tremendous kindness, time for creativity, a space for soul, and we love the precious idea of putting you on your own to-do list.
I heard about it last week and went to check it out the next day. As soon as I entered the Hivery’s light-filled, airy workspace in a former dance studio, I knew I’d found what I needed. At pristine tables before an enormous picture window were a dozen women working in a silence that shimmered with creation and industry. One of them was Melissa Cistaro, a writer I admire (she was a guest blogger here a while back). The woman who showed me around the space, Thais Derich, just finished her memoir and is writing her first novel. Another friend was there, too, Jenny Terry — she organizes Speak to Me, a speakers’ series focussed on women’s issues that’s been going on for over five years. A quick check through the membership rolls turned up many other women engaged in pursuits as varied as medical research, winemaking, and local politics.
It only got better from there. Thais told me there’s a monthly writers’ meeting where women writers offer support, share progress reports, and exchange anything else they might need. There are also regular meetings for entrepreneurs, and in the next month alone there are member-sponsored workshops on wellness, using Instagram, business strategy, organizational techniques, and reading Tarot cards. The idea is that we will turn to one another for help when we seek expertise outside our own, and share our skills with women who need them. It’s a brilliant concept — empowering, inspiring, and energizing all at once.
Best of all was this: I sat at one of those immaculate tables, opened my computer, and spent three hours in a deep dive into Book Two. The time flew by in a creative time warp I hadn’t experienced since I was writing THE LOST GIRLS, over a year ago. Oh, sure, every once in a while my fingers itched to check Goodreads to see if anyone had added THE LOST GIRLS to their to-read shelves, or research independent bookstores close to where we’ll be vacationing this summer. But whenever I felt that itch, I looked around at all those heads bent over their work — over the things they were making — and I did not give in.
Writing is a solitary pursuit, by its nature. There will be many days that I do it alone in my house, in my pajamas, on my couch, with only the cats and dogs to keep me company, because there will be days when that is exactly what I need. But now, once or twice a week, I can go to a different sort of place, one where I will be not be lonely, and where I will be inspired by other women reaching for their dreams. This, it turns out, is exactly what Book Two needs.
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