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Verist Writers Groups
Talent, Passion, Camaraderie & Synergy

Let's say that your life as a writer hasn’t been as satisfying as you would like. Or you are not overjoyed with your present lifestyle arrangement or the place where you live.

    It may be the lack of sense of community, the workaholic culture, the social isolation, the overcrowding and gridlock commutes, want of intellectual engagement, or the writers' rat race itself. You need more supportive and stimulating people around you. Or a more exciting and enjoyable place to live.

     We of the Verist Writers Network™ are a diverse group of writers who joined forces to maximize our creativity, productivity and earnings, and the enjoyment of work and leisure.

     The Network's Verist Writers Groups™ (VWG) are based on the fact that close-knit, focused, synergistic, face-to-face groups – not solitary individuals -- have been the real incubators of change and creativity for the past 2,500 years, as Prof. Randall Collins documents in The Sociology of Philosophies. He demolished the long-standing myth that important ideas, discoveries and innovations were generated by solitary individuals in isolated settings.

    For a brilliant illustration of the power of close-knit group synergy take a glance at the latter part of the 18th century when a dozen men formed the Lunar Society of Birmingham that launched the Industrial Revolution, described so vividly in The Lunar Men by Jenny Uglow. A much more current example is Bill Gates and a group of computer enthusiasts who brought about the computer revolution. See Malcolm Gladwell’s "Group Think," Section 2, New Yorker article on synergism and creative power of face-to-face groups.

    But if you are still not fully convinced of the astounding benefits of face-to-face, group synergy, consider the science fiction writers who banded together under the colorful name of Southern California Sorcerers. They wrote and produced the best science fiction of the 50s and 60s, epitomized by The Twilight Zone and Star Trek TV series. “Many of these writers would not have been nearly as creative without each other. It was genuinely a gestalt that made these people deeper, better—made them stretch to places they never would have gotten to without each other." says Marc Zicree, author of The Twilight Zone Companion.

     "We'd talk plot, read stories we'd finished for opinions, talk about markets and what was selling and who was buying, discuss character development and structure, and, yes, we'd argue, but in a constructive way. We all helped each other ... and inter-connected on projects. We were not alone, we had each other to fire us creatively, to bounce ideas around, to solve plot problems,” said group member William F. Nolan, who has Burnt Offerings and Trilogy of Terror among his film credits.

Some Groups Are More Equal Than Others

     On the other hand, trying to make it as a writer by oneself, outside a good group setting, can be a lonely, frustrating and anguishing struggle. The writers' rat race may arguably be the most demanding, stressful and least profitable, with freelancers in the U.S. earning as little as $4,000 yearly median income. The 2008 U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guideline is $10,400.

     If you run a Web search you’d see that there are hundreds of writers’ groups out there. Unfortunately, most of the groups aren't structured and managed to achieving the maximum benefits of group dynamics and synergy, or participate in challenging recreation and play. Many are intransigent to change; some are even destructive. For a sober assessment of writers’ groups see Holly Lisle’s "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly."

     Fifteen years of group experience and the distillation of Randall Collins' survey of successful groups over the last 2,500 years have been the foundations for the Verist Writers Group model.

Working & Playing Creatively

     Some serious writers I know are either borderline or full-fledged "writeaholics." They take perverse pride in working ungodly number of hours each week. Not having the creative input and synergy of a group is one of the reasons they have to work so hard.

     The writing life is not about being obsessed with work and becoming a drudge. Life is about work, play, creative leisure and enjoyment. Let me share another snippet about the Southern California Sorcerers from Twilight Zone and Star Trek scriptwriter George Clayton Johnson:

     "We knew each others' wives, we went to each others' houses, we shared holidays together, we went to movies and other things together... [We] would go out on the town and zoom around from place to place, stay out all damned hours. We'd just do anything you can think of. We'd go to strip joints to watch the strippers strip and be embarrassed to be there, but nonetheless whistling and whooping it up and trying to act like college kids...We'd go to nice restaurants like Musso and Frank's or we'd end up at Barney's Beanery. Or someplace along the beach. It hardly mattered. The central members were as open to a carnival as they were to an art-house film. More than any particular activity, the joy was in each others' company.”

     The idea is to work hard part of the day and then engage in challenging recreation and play. Partake in the social activities as the Sorcerers did, or take turns originating and leading varied events: scout out new trails and lead hikes; introduce members to some special activities from architectural tours to snorkeling; or teach special skills by way of art classes or preparing special dishes; facilitate discussions on topics important to members; brainstorm solutions to problems; present oral book reports and lead discussions; organize seminars; see plays and movies, and do in-depth post mortems on them. There are countless ways for enjoying life in innovative, creative and meaningful fashion.

     Loneliness, social isolation and depression have driven many a creative writer to alcohol abuse and worse. That’s why achieving a healthy balance between work and play -- while being engaged in an intellectually stimulating setting and warm camaraderie -- is so vital. And fun and play don’t need justification. But there is a vast difference between meaningful, involved play as compared to mindless, vacuous video and card games, golf, Web surfing … It has been said that if you drink, play bridge and golf, you have a ready-made social set anywhere in the U.S. But if you have been at such gatherings, you know how rapidly conversation descends into semi-coherent chatter after the second or third round of drinks.

This Network is an Open, Do-It-Yourself Project

     Here are ways you may become involved.

     o The first option is to find an accessible place with adequate infrastructure for work and play, and where we could create an intellectual challenging, stimulation environment to achieve maximum synergy and literary output, and yet enjoy life to the fullest.

Do you have locations to suggest? Do you know of places where numerous writers live the year around? Are you aware of reasonably priced hotels, boarding houses, or a mansion with multiple bedrooms? Any of these could be good starts. Please e-mail me any information you may have on this subject.

     o You may decide, after evaluating and rating your current location in a systematic way, that you prefer to establish a Verist Writers Group in the area where you are now.

     o If group endeavors are an anathema for you, be a Verist Writer on your own.

    In any case we want to know about you. Tell us about yourself, what you are currently writing, and what you have written in the past and had published. As appropriate, we'll send you more details about the Network.

Al Louis Ripskis, Coordinator

If you have an original article or comments to submit for publication on the Verist Writers Network, e-mail it to ripskis@sprynet.com. It may be edited for space reasons. On the subject line please include NETWORK in caps; otherwise your e-mail may get deleted by the spam filter. For more information about me click author.

Copyright © 2008 Al Louis Ripskis. All Rights Reserved.
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