I say it time and again. Every week, this group meets and for every time I am there, I walk away grounded by the experience. It is an auditorium turned in on itself so that the stage is the very seat beneath you. We are both audience and panel, expert in the precise clarity and ambiguity of what we have come up with and decided to share.
There’s something to be said for keeping a project safe in silence. It can be a disservice to the process to expose an idea, like a film of a still developing picture, to the light. Sometimes I ask myself for more privacy, in that sense.
And yet, taking a piece of writing out for some air can be just the thing it needs. And the feedback may not be the searing iron or the blacksmith’s hammer we fear it to be. Likely, it is about carvings within your reach to polish.
For those who shared and listened at Sunday’s meeting, and any given Sunday at that, I want to say thank you. It’s a credit to what we have created together in this community of ours that we can hold the space for some of our most meaningful words.
The conditions of a safe space include listening without judgment and asking to understand without advice giving or fixing. The feedback is about the writing. The practice is about empathy.
Which is why it is also a place to experiment and be beginners. When poets try their hand at prose, when those who favor non-fiction (like me) lean into short stories and flash fiction, we celebrate! The diversity of ‘voices’ around the table is incredible. And you won’t know what this would do for you unless you show up regularly.
Listening to the words, that’s something we practice weekly. Listening to poets brought me to writing poetry. Hearing flash fiction showed me how much impact one line can have.
I am very proud that we have built a ‘container’ that invites people to be evermore brave and lean into vulnerability on the page.
And it is such a valuable gift.