Our Local Group of Writers
I have the privilege of “running” a small group of local writers who meet once a month or so. That used to mean hosting it at my homeschool resource center, but now that those doors have closed, we’ve been rotating it between various homes.
Refreshment and Encouragement
Even when there are only a few of us, I feel refreshed and excited about writing after each meeting. And while I’m generally the “veteran” writer there (it helps that I have been around for decades more than most of our typical attendees), I always learn new things from the others.
This past meeting I was introduced to a short story by J.R.R. Tolkien that I wasn’t familiar with – Leaf by Niggle. One of the other authors mentioned the story in the context of a “Fantastic Fiction” co-op class she will be teaching in the fall. I was intrigued by her description and promptly bought the Audible version of it. I enjoyed the story for multiple reasons, not the least being that it’s a very different type of story than what I usually associate with Tolkien.
I’ve been a big Tolkien fan for decades. But to me Tolkien equates to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Period. I’ve been a C.S. Lewis for almost as long, and I had realized he wrote much more than just the Chronicles of Narnia. But for some reason I was limiting Tolkien in my mind.
Variety within Writing
In addition to discovering another fun story when I listened to Leaf by Niggle, it encourages me as an author. In addition to reading lots and lots of books for their entertainment and educational value, I also read a lot about the art of writing. And in too many places the instructions to authors (new authors, in particular) are to find your niche and stick to it. In other words, the goal is generally to write in only one particular genre.
But as an author whose interests go much beyond one subject (history, politics, economics, Shakespeare, science, and more), it is very difficult for me to imagine only writing in one little corner. Even within history my interests (and therefore my books) are all over the map – Leonardo da Vinci, the American Revolution, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, just to name a few. It would feel like punishment to limit myself and my writing.
So, it is good to be reminded that some of my favorite all-time authors (Lewis and Tolkien have to be at the top of that list), did not stick to one type of writing either. If Lewis could write non-fiction and fiction works and Tolkien could write more than just the fantasy style, I had pigeonholed him in, then, I can too!