I’m stuck on Chapter Four.

Partly because I’ve spent the past five days working to eradicate some of the beige that covers every wall (well, except for bathroom’s combo of ’80s aqua and stark white and the kitchen’s half-and-half neon yellow and, again, stark white) in our new-to-us home.

All the while, my mind’s been swimming through those early chapters. Number four, in particular, which might be too slow.

Too slow.

Cue the anxiety. The uncertainty. Therefore, the stall.

Those of you who’ve revised or are revising novels or other complex projects understand this. How a quandary can stymy, turn the ground beneath into quicksand, stop us short.

Not a problem, I think, to pause for a few days, catch our breath, shift the backpack, consider the map. Sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.

But if the days start ticking by, building distance between you and the novel, then you’ve got a problem.

If, for example, I dedicated myself to covering all the remaining beige (and, believe me, there’s a lot of it) instead of using this set-aside month to finish this revision, then I’d be in trouble.

So what helps?

Showing up, obviously.

Community does, as well. Having other writers around to talk to, to listen to. Creative folks who are also living the sometimes isolated, sometimes scary, artistic life.

Last week I finished the second of two classes I’ve been teaching since January (including my pilot which gave me much to consider as I embark on building the next version, specific to completing novels). Since then, I’ve sunk into my own work (house painting aside) but I’ve also found myself thinking a lot about my students, whether they crafted their first poems with me or utilized my lessons on managing chaos in the creative process.

Are they doing okay?

Are they continuing their important work?

Are they writing?

Isolation – especially in the days when, as I’ve written before, no one cares if you write – can be a killer.

These days, though, connecting often defaults to setting up yet another Facebook group. To me, this is a bit like trying to gather with your people in the corner of a very crowded auditorium, yelling at each other about important stuff across the din while a hundred other enticements grab at our attention.

The real solution?

Meet up in person.

So, here’s your invitation.

Put the kettle on, make a cup of tea, turn off your cell phone, abandon your mind-numbing feed, and come chat about writing with me in my newly non-beige living room.

Twice a month, on a Tuesday evening and a Sunday afternoon, starting Sunday, March 18th, I’ll be offering free office hours for my email list subscribers. We’ll gather using ZOOM, a free video-conferencing platform that is easy to install, simple to use, and conducive to groups.

If you’re already subscribed to my email list, this coming Monday you’ll receive a calendar of the first three dates and times (in March and April) and a link to the ‘ZOOM room’ where we’ll gather.

You’ll get one or two reminders as the meeting times approach (if you filter messages, make sure my emails come to your priority inbox so you don’t miss any invitations). If you’re not already subscribed, there’s a form to do that in the sidebar.

Regardless of whether you’re desperate to find a path back to your work, you’d like to pop by just to see what colour I painted my walls (hint: NOT neutral!) or you have some burning questions about your writing project, I hope to see you on the 18th! Bring your questions, concerns, stuck-points, or just show up to hang out, and let’s build some real connection!

This idea was inspired by Eric Karjaluoto, a graphic designer and blogger who wrote one of the best posts I’ve read about quitting social media and co-founded his own office hours application to answer questions for free from designers and start-ups.