Whether online or in person, we crave the company of and conversation with others who write. For most of my life, I wrote alone with no other writers with whom I could share my work. I didn't know any other writer when I lived in south Georgia. For years I wrote personal essays, some poetry and short stories which no one ever saw. I had no one except family to read my work. I believe family is of no help with deciding if my writing is good or not. My poetry was criticized because it did not rhyme. No one in my family group enjoyed free verse poetry. My true stories were criticized because I didn't include my siblings in the narration.
But, when I moved to North Carolina in 1995, and joined the NC Writers' Network- West, I automatically became a part of a fantastic writing community. Nancy Simpson, poet and teacher, founder and Program Coordinator of NCWN-West, encouraged me, advised me, and supported me in writing and in taking leadership roles. The others in the poetry groups and prose group did the same. I took classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School with excellent writers who were instructors. I began publishing my poetry the year after I arrived in the mountains of North Carolina.
Some have said that writers don't need NCWN-West now because we have the Internet, but they are wrong. Here in the mountains of Appalachia, we need the community of writers who live near us. We have always been a very generous group that wants to help each other improve and get published.
We have a monthly poetry group that meets in Young Harris, Georgia. We also have a monthly poetry group that meets in Hayesville, NC.
Coffee with the Poets and Writers meets monthly at the library in Hayesville, NC. All groups are open to the public.
When the pandemic hit, we had to stop meeting in person for two years. We moved to Zoom to hold meetings online. Our monthly Writers' Night Out has become a Zoom event with writers from distant states joining us.
Mountain Wordsmiths meets monthly, on Zoom, at 10:30 AM and has become popular with our members from all nine NC counties and north Georgia counties.
I am happy we were able to keep our community going through Zoom meetings even though some of our members have not been that comfortable going online. It was of utmost importance to keep our members safe during the worst of COVID-19. Now that we can get vaccinated and practice social distancing and wearing masks, it is safer to meet in person.
I think our writing community has survived the pandemic and it will continue to be a stable program for writers in the remote mountain areas of North Carolina and north Georgia.