Six Members and Friends have been writing together since the first Wednesday in June – and we’re half-way through the six sessions. We want to share how we’re doing.
Participants include Allan Johnson, Barbara Glasgow (facilitator), Irene Heideman, Lynn Beaudoin, Mike McCrossin, and Susan Endes.
This experience develops the writers’ voices – whether the goal is to preserve memories, compile a collection of stories, write and publish, or to get to know the others better. We reflect on those things most important to us. As an added plus, we share laughter, poignant stories, raw emotions, and the real satisfaction of being heard.
We follow the format described by Pat Schneider in her book Writing Alone and Together. We gather two afternoons a month during the summer to write together. Writing prompts are provided, writers share what they write and receive feedback; the feedback is about what we identified within the piece, what we felt as we listened, and what made a memorable impression.
A writers’ group isn’t a therapy group, and writing invites fabrication and fictionalizing. Art isn’t about telling our secrets, but it has to be free to go wherever it needs to go – and usually our pain comes out first.
So what do we write about? Here are a few examples:
- Our first prompt was appropriately about “writing.” The responses were wide-ranging – from one member’s description of his early school experiences with putting letters together to making narratives in middle school – to another’s light essay about subscribing to a newspaper just for the puzzles and comics.
- At our second session, we wrote about “How I have evolved” and then wrote a letter to someone who’s gone and who was important to us.
One group member described her transformation over her life from a shy little girl into a less self-conscious independent adult who reaches out as needed in life.
Another member wrote a sad letter to her former neighbors about the new residents who moved in – she had to tell her friends that the new neighbors had dumped the valued piano of theirs into the yard.
- The prompts for our third session were “…and then” (suggesting a jump right into the middle of a narrative); the next prompt was to rewrite the first piece with a changed person (e.g., 1st to 3rd) or form (such as from essay to dialogue or a listing). The topics included one member’s essay on feeling hooked on politics and old movies on TV – she easily changed it from past to present tense; another member gave a fictional accounting of family activities (pets, food, a grilling accident). She rewrote this piece into a schedule or list and changed it to present tense (listing date, time, event).
This short-term opportunity to write with others may be offered again next summer (2020); look for articles in UUCW’s West Wind next spring. For more info, contact Barbara Glasgow.