A couple of weekends ago, I participated in a Fall Writer’s Marathon with instructor Dawn Groves and several other writers. It had been a long time since I’d connected with writers in person, and this seemed like a great opportunity to meet fellow writers in my community and get some writing done.
I didn’t know what to expect. The marathon would take place from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm. What would I write? Where would we write?
I was nervous and unsure. I hadn’t written with others in person in probably ten years. I knew George would be available to care for our children, though, and I felt a need to connect, so I signed up for the writing marathon and put it on the calendar.
At 7:45 am on the appointed date, I packed up my laptop, leather-bound journal (which I hadn’t used as a journal in years), a water bottle, a cheese stick, and headed out.
“Where are you actually going for this?” asked G.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Are you taking a bus from place to place?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
I arrived to the session with my anxiety sky-high. I felt rather unfocused and a little worried.
Just prior to my participation in this workshop, I’d written a blog post about why I am voting no on the Bellingham School District bond. The hits and views and shares were coming in by the hundreds and even thousands. Although I stood by every word I wrote, I was not used to using my blog as a public platform, and I was not accustomed to this amount of publicity. I didn’t know if the numbers reflected people who agreed with me or people who opposed me. I dreaded the possibly of negative feedback sure to come in.
In this light, I showed up to the marathon and met with Dawn, who instantly put me at ease.
“You are safe today,” she said. “Don’t let fear of what someone might say tomorrow, or worry over what somebody said yesterday, send you into chaos. You spoke your truth with strength and dignity. Respond to any feedback in the same way.”
That is how I began my writing marathon; with assurance of safety and validation. So I wrote in session one. And I wrote during session two. Then session three, and session four. And I connected with the other writers, and we shared our writing. Then we moved to the next location, and we wrote. Then we met up again at the next location and shared our writing. I listened to works-in-progress that included plays, fiction, and memoir.
As for me? I just wrote. Freehand. In my leather-bound journal. I ditched my laptop and the pressure to click “submit” or “send” or “publish” or “update.” Nope. I had my pen and book and just wrote.
I almost felt like I was hiding. It made me laugh. Nobody could find me! I moved from location to location in my corner of town and wrote in coffee bars, bookstores, hotel lobbies with fireplaces and book-lined shelves, and even stopped by a real bar.
I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I never stopped. And during the share times, I learned or was reminded of things, like:
- Amazing things will happen, but you have to show up and then grab them.
- Ignoring a passion or a need is a mistake.
- Cut open the vein and write through the pain and hurt.
- Don’t devalue your efforts. Small steps.
- Connect and gather with people who actually have goals and connect with them.
The writing marathon was a gift. Dawn Groves was a gift. My fellow writers were a gift. I entered the workshop in one state and left another. All the right people, all at the right time.
Speak your truth, no matter what it is and no matter where it may lead.
You are safe. And so am I.