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THE WRITER'S WAY

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the writers way jen frankel THE MISSING LINK
THE WRITER'S WAY

by Jen Frankel

Jen Frankel apologizes right now � she�s not going to tell any of those embarrassing stories...

So back in the day, I used to have this fatal combination of character traits. I was unbelievably shy, and utterly unwilling to admit it.

Caused me to do a lot of embarrassing things, a lot of them around boys.

Also caused me a certain amount of notoriety in my social and school circles as a bit of a shit-disturber. Funny how you can stir the pot just by trying not to be noticed.

Maybe not so funny. To try not to be noticed, I thought the best route to success would be never to join a group, in true Groucho Marx fashion, not avoiding those that would have me as a member but those that wouldn't.

Hard to fly under the radar when you are loudly proclaiming your outsiders status every time a group forms, and you're the only one deliberately trying to stand outside it.

I'm a lot more comfortable with myself nowadays, but the urge not to be a joiner hasn't died out in me entirely. Now, I merely avoid groups where there is no goal in mind pursuant to its formation. I am a progress-oriented person, and I can't stand the idea of socialization without objective, at least not when it's formalized by regular meetings and secret handshakes and the like.

Jen tries to warm to being a Groupie

On the other hand, I have finally come to terms with the appeal of the kind of benefit attained by joining an organized religion or community group, although, again, that's not really my thing. The best part about churches, from what I can tell (and here again I'm really speaking as an outsider) is the way members draw together to help each other, with everything from homelessness programs to good deals on home contracting.

I�m wondering if part of my reluctance to join up with anything stems from an unwillingness to recognize my own capacity as a leader. The most successful groups I�ve been a part of in my time have all been ones I formed myself.

Looking back, I'm tempted to say that the eventual dissolution of all of them was due to my inability to cope with their success, and with the fact that people had begun to look to ME as a person who could do for them what I wanted someone to do for me. That is, form a group I wanted to be a member of.

I don't want to be a joiner so much as a founder. It's been my problem with religion from the start just too much history for me to feel on top of the situation. Maybe founding my own religion, like ol L. Ron would be an answer, but I don't think so.

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All groups and no goals make Jen a sad girl

What I really need is to get the goal straight, and then build the organization to achieve it. Like the way a corporation was originally supposed to function: you form a group to complete a goal. Then, when the goal is done, the group has outlived its purpose, and you dissolve it and move on.

I�m more comfortable with my own ambitions than I've ever been before in my life. I understand the idea that in order to get what you want, there's a pretty straightforward set of steps. First, you discover what you what. Then you form the intention of getting it. Then you take action.

I�ve often felt in the past like the sock-stealing elves in an episode of South Park, who have their master plan on a chalk board. Step One, it says, STEAL SOCKS. Step Two, a big fat cartoon question mark. Step Three, World Domination. It always falls apart if you don't have a step two.

And I think that Step Two has something to do with letting groups happen...

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