The first meeting of my writers group began with a few chairs in a circle. Before it began, however, that circle kept getting bigger until more than 30 people were there, eager to connect with other writer
The meetings that took place after that were separated into 3 groups. A writers group is educational, but it taught me other things than how to writel. From one of the first members I learned that you can find philosophers that are most comfortable at Jerry’s bar. He wrote heady stuff with titles like What is Man?
From Ken who used to listen to other’s pieces as he rolled cigarettes, I learned that some people’s writings may never leave a spiral notebook, but that does not make it any less important.
From the people that wrote memoirs, I got to hear about being an alter boy in a cathedral, putting a 12 cylinder airplane motor in a 29 Buick, making corn husk dolls, and having a farm in the early 1900s where you could stop a train as it bisected your farm and get on.
From one poet in her nineties, I learned that true poetry is a raspy voice reading poems from a book bound at Kinkos.
With the passing of members, I learned that some projects and dreams never come to fruition. That doesn’t mean they should not be undertaken.
Though people may not believe it, because I fall short with my critiques, I know the power of a positive comment. I know this through one of the poets. He would come in, put his glasses with only one bow on and read several of his poems. I would tell him I really liked his poems because I really liked his poems. At the time I did not know he struggled with a mental illness.
I don’t know that he changed his poems and that breaks our cardinal rule. I do not like it when people break that rule and just want an audience. However, he did listen to what we had to say. He respected people’s opinion- so he fulfilled the social contract of a writers’ group.
And in return, he got to participate in writing. In helping others with their writings. And he had an audience. At the end of his life, his wife related that he was so thankful for a Saturday morning we set aside an hour for an author spotlight and attended to his poems.
In a writers group and in life, you never know the importance your attention has on another person. From my friend Paul, you must make it a good one.