Pick a Vision: Three Paths to Growth for Writing Organizations
by Dayna E. Mazzuca
Our beloved Canadian writing organizations seem to be doing some soul-searching. From surveys to AGMs to reorg’s to requests for volunteers and committees struck to explore possible future scenarios for growth, now seems to be the time of taking stock. I would like to add a thought (or 3) to the discussion going forward.
As I see it, there are three choices to make. What should we do, really?
1. Are we primarily educators? Are we the community class offering all things writing-related to the person who wants to hone their craft? If yes, then let’s focus on developing the teachers in our midst. Let’s drill down and take a systematic approach to covering the basics of fiction, non-fiction and creative writing. There is always more to learn. Let’s identify those in our midst who do what they do well (label them as fiction, non-fiction or creative experts in their field) and set up cohorts along those lines. If we’re a place of teaching, let’s teach! This is a mandate to make sure everyone is in their groove and mastering their craft. Polish makes perfect!
2. Or, are we first and foremost colleagues who need time and places to connect and cross pollinate our ideas? If yes this is a more social/professional mandate than the teaching one. It may seem subtle, but conferences, workshops and gatherings of all types would look different for each mandate. For a more collegial mandate, the assumption is people are established in their craft or accessing what they need through various continuing education options. The assumption is that we get together not to grow as individual writers, but to grow a community of writers. This means we need free time, structured interactions and thoughtful ice-breakers. Encouragement to find writers just like us and stay in touch. It means every chapter doesn’t offer critique sessions, but also times to share our writing goals, stay accountable and share resources and contacts. This is a community that wants to bond to be stronger in forming outside connections with the publishing world. This is about putting editors and publishers front and centre (rather than teachers). This is a mandate on the move. Let’s meet!
3. Or, we can ask ourselves if faith comes first. Are we primarily a Christian group? If yes, then we can focus on building faith in common areas as found in the Apostle’s Creed and actively seek to fulfill the call of God on our writing lives. We can focus on having more prayerful gatherings, with times of sharing, worship, bringing God’s word to bear on our own lives, situations, needs and writing dreams. We can come alongside each other and put our hands on each others’ shoulders and offer to pray. We can elevate our prayer coordinators to be the main speakers at our events. We can seek out speakers and preachers with a strong anointing to inspire us to fight the good fight, finish well and dig deeper theologically in our writing if need be. This is a group that offers people a place to bring their own struggles, celebrations, insights and breakthroughs. This is a mandate to bless. And pray long.
A college-type mandate for mastering craft, a collegial setting to connect as professionals, or a place where Christians gather to pursue their call: these are the three possible paths to organizational growth. Regardless of which we choose to shape a vision of provision around, there is always room for growth within that mandate – and of course, to some extent we’ll do all three, but picking a path is not limiting. Picking a path means we can go forward on that path.
It doesn’t matter which one we pick. It matters that we pick one.