A recent article in the New York Times, Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?, by Joanne Kaufman recounted the story of a woman, named Jocelyn Bowie, who was invited to join a book club shortly after she moved back to Indiana. She had hoped she could find a sisterhood of women in the group with whom she could network.
When the women began bickering about their choice of books, she decided to defect. The article goes on to describe the acrimony that is rampant among the 4 to 5 million book groups across the U.S. (predominantly made up of women)---but explains how it isn't just about the book. They disagree about "the rules" and refreshments, and butt heads over politics. I'm sure the recent polarizing election killed off more than a few groups.
I had a similarly disappointing experience in joining a short-lived writer's group. Although we all loved writing, there weren't enough ties to keep the group together and we dispersed as soon as we could, explaining it away as a summer hiatus. We were at different stages of our writing careers and at different phases of our lives---and our personalities just didn't seem to click. One person was an incessant talker and another always came late, expecting us to rewind from the beginning. No one wanted to intercede, possibly alienating another member.
I found out that a shared love of writing doesn't always cut it when it comes to maintaining a writer's group---just as forming and maintaining female friendships are partly a matter of luck, too. When I interviewed more than 1200 women about their female friendships, a large number of them talked about how best friends just seem to "click." They described how it felt easy and comfortable to be together from the beginning, like slipping into a worn pair of jeans, and it didn't take any work.
Friendship circles like book clubs and writers' groups are more complicated than one-on-one friendships, perhaps, because there are more personalities added to the pot. Some of us are lucky to find groups that "click" while others have to try more than once---to find the right one.