When The Community Gives Back

2014 saw my worst ever case of writer’s block. Worst I say, not just because of how much I struggled to write but because how much I felt myself tearing away from writing. Writing and especially fiction, has been my release, my motivation and my source of survival for the past five years. It was not comfortable at all, feeling myself come disconnected from what has kept me nourished and breathing. If you read my blog often, you’ll have noticed the hiatus and the hiccups. Several of my posts were recycled, touched-up old ones, a desperate last-ditch attempt to retain the blog I’ve spent ten years cultivating.

Alphabet Sambar, my pet project of 2014 also took a hit towards the end of the year (though this was only slightly connected to my mood; there is a seasonality to people’s interest levels). We didn’t have any meets from mid-November onwards. And I felt myself drag and crash into the abyss of not caring about words anymore. I always thought that the day I stopped caring would be the day I stopped living. To stop caring about writing and words – I felt like a dying person with no hope.

But towards the end of December, other members of the group started to ask about the next meet. One of them told me how much she enjoyed them and how she had gained. Another friend who was privy to my depressed thoughts of quitting writing, urged me to reconsider and reminded me of how happy I sounded each time I spoke about the group. It pushed me to initiate a meet.

Today, we had the first 2015 meet. 11 people responded (a record number for an individual meet). I found my fingertips tingling even midweek, looking forward to seeing people I hadn’t seen in weeks and also – to write. Last evening, I sat down and wrote. Since I’ve resolved to be less stressed in 2015, I allowed myself to not worry about style and quality or even adherence to format. I finished in 45 minutes and went out to meet a friend. It was the first fiction I had written in months. It was more fun than anything I’ve had in over a month.

And today, in the talking and the sharing, I found blood running through my veins again and breath moving easily in my lungs. When I shared my piece, the group loved it and I remembered again why I write. The power to touch people with words – this is my privilege, this is my dream, this is me. The company of people who found joy in this idea of mine, inspired me into action. The heaviness of 2014’s worries seemed to lift. I’m soaring on wings of words again. My labour of love returned to rescue me from the depths. Thank you, Alphabet Sambar.


Note: Alphabet Sambar is a community project I began in October 2013. I had gained greatly from the company of experienced writers and from participating in writing groups. I wanted a safe space for people who loved words but didn’t think of themselves as writers. It began as a late afternoon coffee between four people on  a Sunday. I couldn’t have anticipated how far it would go. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, it picked up momentum, ideas and people. We did writing exercises, collaborated on writing projects, began novels and became good friends.

Today we have over 100 members spread across 7 countries and 14 cities. Mumbai is our most active spot. We meet every Sunday to share our writing, critique each other’s work and have a geeky laugh or two over words. We are NOT however, a therapy group, a free coaching class for aspiring writers or a brand powered social media community. We’re just a bunch of people who found a place to park their words and enjoy a chai together.

If you love writing and conversations about words, come join us! Alphabet Sambar is on Twitter and Facebook. You can also write to me at ideasmithy at gmail dot com if you’d like to attend a meet.


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