I joined the book club, at the Caruthersville Library, last month and as a fully fledged bookworm, this should have been something that wasn't new to me. But, like so much of my Bootheel experience during this first year, I had never joined a book club before now and I had to wonder why.
I love books. I talk books with friends over coffee. I collect books and have several editions of my two favorites - Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. You learn from books. Travel with books. The world is opened wide by books. WIDE opened. So why have there been no book clubs in my past?
Have you ever met an extrovert who is always on the watch inside? Well, that would be me. I like people but I've also been easily disappointed by them. Of course, that was way back, when having expectations of people just naturally led most often to disappointment and it is our experiences that form us. But, just because we are let down doesn't mean we have to continue being let down. Entering into any activity with few expectations actually leads to better outcomes, at least for me. Suddenly, people seemed more reliable.
Whatever the reason for the disappointment, the lesson was to go my own way and I pretty much chose to do that all of my adult life. My circle of friends was small and loyal and I was happy with that. Then I move here.
I know you've heard it before, but living here is very different for me. The Pirate fit right in. He knew the ground rules. After a year of living here, I've learned that my California sensibilities don't necessarily fit. So, over the course of this year, I've met a lot of people, fit myself into my own special writing and visiting place, rubbed shoulders (quite literally sometimes) at city council meetings, enjoyed library events, and getting to know my church community. And most importantly, I had the river and the never-ending barge life to comfort and soothe me through my homesick times. I finally felt ready to test the waters, so to speak, and take the pulse of joining a club and what I found was so satisfying.
The group is small. There are no right or wrong answers; no opinions or "takes" on a point of plot or character that outshine what other members have to say. Perhaps all book clubs are like this but by the time I retired from work, joining a social group was completely not my thing. People disappointed. The lesson of a year of living in C'ville changed all that - the lesson of having no expectations.
When I arrived at my first meeting, I had not read the book; the decision to go was fairly last minute. No problem (First Plus). I met some interesting people (Second Plus). The discussion was lively and freewheeling (Third Plus).
After my second visit, I felt my own creative powers being pushed. There are more than a few writers in C'ville and I started thinking that having a writers' workshop one day at the library might be a way to push to the next level in my own writing. Even though I've written on and off my whole life, I've never shared it beyond blogging. Then I moved here.
I recently gave my daughter some advise as she started out on a new endeavor of her own. I told her to take small steps. Don't jump in deep and expect to swim. Find your success in a small way. Find your comfort zone. Funny how words for the young can be equally valuable for the not so young.
Sharing my writing here has been a door I was willing to walk through to take my own steps a bit farther away from my own comfort zone. And, believe me, it was scary. Joining a book club, sharing my thoughts and opinions about another writer's writing has been a similar experience. I've haven't had too much to say yet but I have found that I may be able to comfortably do the social group thing after all since the welcome I've received, like jumping into a heated pool, has been warm and reassuring.
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