Six months or so ago I started a creative Writing Group here at the continuum care complex. We’re a small group with a core of four but we are faithful in our endeavors. Two of the members say the group has helped inspire them to start writing and keep writing---something they had planned to do in retirement but hadn’t gotten around to doing it until I started the group. One of them is a woman who has been working on writing several short-but-connected stories and claims it’s the first time she’s tried to write anything. She’s good! So good I have a hard time believing she’s as green as she says she is. On the other hand she was a librarian her entire career and as Stephen King says the best way to learn to write is to be ferocious reader. The guy who credits the group for keeping him writing does poems and brings a half a dozen to group each time we meet, usually written a few days before our get-togethers. I wish I could write that fast.
Another women in group is a pastor here on campus and she’s been writing for years, even had a column in the daily newspaper back in the '60's and '70s. She’s a true asset to our group, especially when it comes to critiquing the rest of us with her positive observations. Sometimes she shares beautifully written stories about her life that’s been full of dark twists and joyous turns like you wouldn’t believe. Other times it’s a sermon she might be working on that she shares. I’m a duck without water when it comes to helping with her questions on the latter topics. She knows I’m an agnostic which I told her in a one-on-one long before I started the group. I’ve written about her before labeling her with the name Ms Angel. And she is one. I fan-girl her because she’s wicket smart, has great recall and empathy and is non-judgemental. If she didn't wear an obnoxious perfume I'd probably pursue a one-on-one friendship with her. She's suggested coffee so I know she feels the same pull but sitting next to her for an hour of group is almost more than I can take of that perfume. It gives me a headache and you can smell her coming from eight feet away.
I’m the forth one the group---Chatty Cathy dropped out a long time ago and the guy who said he’d come back if she dropped out got voted off the island, so to speak. We had two others sample the group but they didn’t come back. We’re planning a poetry slam in the fall, open to all the residents to read their favorite poems. We’ll, however, be reading original stuff at our fireplace gathering place in hopes that will get some more people interested in joining us. It will take me from now to then to write something that might have universal appeal and to practice reading it out loud. Talk about breaking out of my rut and comfort zone, this will do it in spades.
A month of so after I was hospitalized I wrote a ‘dark’ poem and recently shared I it with my Creative Writing Group. When I finished, no one said a word for the longest time. Finally someone says, “I don’t know what to say” and another person was quick to agree. The third comment was, “It’s very different than anything else you’ve written.” I was embarrassed. What I usually share are humorous little poems and occasionally a slightly revised blog post. When I do the latter I call them slice-of-life essays because no one here knows I keep a blog, nor will they ever if I can help it. Half the time I wish I hadn’t started the group because it’s harder than I thought it would be to keep that secret. But the rest of the time I’m vain enough to enjoy the status I get from being known as "the person who has that writing group" even though I tell people, “It’s not my group, we share equally.” And we do. I’m proud of the way we interact with one another.
I was in a creative writing group back about ten years ago. We had eight members and I know if I had read my ‘dark’ poem (The Call) to that group they would have spent fifteen minutes dissecting it, tearing it a part piece by piece until I disclosed who was right in figuring out the caller and helping me decide if I need a third stanza or to drop the last line of the poem. (I still can’t decide.) I honestly expected it to be an easy poem to discuss/figure out/pick apart and I would have loved that but I was sorely disappointed by the reactions it got. So I made sure after that third comment that we moved quickly on to the next reader. Lesson learned: stick with humor in that group. With that introduction, I’m giving you guys a taste of my poetry. The first is titled Forensic Digest---a stupid title, I know, but long-time readers know naming creative things is not my strong suit. The second one is The Call, the poem that left my group speech-less. ©
© The Misadventures of Widowhood
Until next Wednesday...