Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Writing Group

Writing can be a lonely and intimately personal process. I often surround myself with strangers at cafes, libraries, and public spaces to avoid this sense of isolation. During the embryonic stages of the first draft, I am plagued with questions like “What am I writing?” or “Why am I writing?” These questions can be useful in a dialogue of sorts but they tend to get lodged into the existential abyss of writer’s block. Once I am beyond the first draft, my body and mind eases itself into the solitary work of editing and revising. Later, I get stuck again after looking at the same essay for the 20th time and need a pair of eyes and ears that are not my own. That is when you hope to find a writer or a writing group that can give you insight, inspiration, and shred your work into lean articulate pieces. I know; it is a lot to expect.

I have found a wonderful surprise in my writing group. We share our writing and receive honest to goodness, sharp and useful feedback. Since we formed, we have been taking turns celebrating our successes and commiserating our rejections. Beyond the group as a whole, I have discovered many jewel like moments with each member of the group: conversations about long distance love while sitting in the sun, the sweetest cottage and greatest neighbor who gives me encouragement on long walks, a playwright who shares my passion for dance and mothering a son, and a colorful spirit who shares amazing writing advice and provides another perspective regarding the concept of living with one’s mother.

Our writing group just celebrated Rachel’s birthday at Bacaro Happy Hour, and we found some warm hugs within the very cold evening. Rebekah was there briefly before she had to attend another event, so she is not photographed yet. As we drank and nibbled and laughed, I thought this is the opposite of feeling lonely as a writer. Rachel with her beautiful rosy cheeks, maybe from the tequila shot, said that she loved how writing allows us to take our experiences especially the darker ones and transform them into writing material. It is true. No matter what we experience, grow or regress from, we find fodder for our art. I remember one time smashing commitment jade rings into a fine almost white powder on the sidewalk. It felt so final, so completely necessary to destroy what they stood for. I remember a side thought of being surprised that jade could turn into powder. Then adding a mental note: add this image to pool of ideas for a future story.

Right now, in this morning, with my shades drawn and having only stepped out once to walk my dog, I feel so grateful for the memories that I created with this group and to find the words to record and share them.