Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nana Organizes a Writing Group

Earlier this year I facilitated a writing class through Blue Mountain Community College. The class didn't enroll enough people for the class to "make", but we decided to go ahead and meet anyway. Four of us met every Wednesday morning to read our writing, give feedback to each other, and to revel in our enjoyment of writing. Four middle-aged women who were both alike and different. Although we shared a love of writing, our styles and content each had a distinct voice . We all wrote about our families, children and grandchildren. Our life paths, however, had been very different.

None of us were experts, but by trial and error, or hit and miss, or just plain luck we each managed to produce pieces that were funny, or touching, or shocking or just plain entertaining. Because we met weekly, we all felt the pressure to produce something to share. We learned from each other and were inspired by each other.

One participant was writing a series that told the stories of significant possessions. She wanted a record of their histories to pass on to her family. Another participant told the story of giving a daughter up for adoption and then reuniting with her years later. The third participant wrote about her life growing up in a rural area. We learned about each other and shared our intimate thoughts through our writing.

…and then the semester ended. We all wanted to continue our writing group. Several locations were suggested including the local library and a new used bookstore in downtown Hermiston. I had several trips scheduled but promised that I would reconvene the group when I got back to town.

But, I haven’t and that has been the challenge of retirement. I have no external accountability so I put everything off for tomorrow…and tomorrow hasn’t come around yet! There are trips to visit my grandchildren, and then the Umatilla County Fair where I‘m scheduled to cook the French fries in the Lion’s Club booth, and then we’re going on our cruise to Alaska. It seems like I’ve got plenty of excuses to put off organizing our group meeting.

I think I have settled into retirement and quite enjoy not having responsibilities. Next week I have two appointments on my calendar and I’m stressing about if I can possibly fit in another activity. I used to cram multiple activities into my day. I don’t think I’ve lost the skill, just the will.

Next week, if I can fit it in between lunch with my friend Tiah and writing a grant for the high school, I’ll definitely get the writing group going again.


  1. I'm interested! Don't know whether I'll have time to meet F2F, but willing to try! Let me know.


  2. You are retired! Heck, do only what you want.

  3. It was only through having self-imposed deadlines that I managed to finish writing my story of Les Lavandes. And the deadlines were only imposed because I wanted to post a couple of paragraphs on my blog each day!

  4. And THAT is why I can't wait to retire! Good for you. I think retirement is the time when we can choose what we want to do rather than being forced to do things. It's meant to be a time to relax and enjoy whether that means white water rafting or going for a walk or doing nothing. It is well deserved after a lifetime of punching a clock. Enjoy it no matter what you do or don't do!

  5. Oh the pressures of retirement! I understand your situation all too well. It is a challenge to balance our time between what we always wanted to do and what seems to be a commitment.

    I have a writing group too. Actually, just two of us meet to write, but we call it our "group." We only write together once a month. We start out by giving each other a word that we free-write about for ten minutes. Then we share what we just wrote. From there we share the writing that we have done since our last meeting. We try to stay focused and not get caught up in visiting. We allow ourselves a bit of catch up with our lives bit of visiting at the beginning or the end of the writing time.

    Since I can't seem to do the commitment thing right now, we are not meeting, but I hope we pick it up again soon.

  6. So, you'll schedule the group again in the fall when schedules might make more sense. I love how you're enjoying your retirement.

  7. Retirement sounds wonderful, but so does a writing group!


  8. I think that the writing group was a relic from your job ... so it feels like going back to that time and maybe you aren't quite ready for that. But I bet the time will come when the writing bug calls to you ... and it feels more like fun and not like work!

    And I think a blog is such a good outlet for aspiring writers. If nothing else, it forces you to write on a regular basis.


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