I’m coming here this morning to share two recent experiences with you–two experiences that have become the progenitors of an additional kind of writing group I’m now offering.
1. An Experiment
A couple of weeks ago, I inadvertently embarked on a writing experiment. It was in the middle of one of my groups. That day’s prompt opened the door to a particular memory, and my ten-minute freewrite left me wanting to go further with it. So the next morning, I read the new prompt, and used it to go back to that place–not where I left off and not to write something chronological or linear, but to discover a new aspect of that time and place, that particular story.
Within a week or so of this, I realized that something was taking shape without effort, simply as a result of me showing up each day to a prompt, with no idea what I would write and yet with a sense of intention and context as to what the writing would return to.
Without meaning to, I had begun circling around a gem. I am still at it, ten minutes at a time, and do not know where it’s going or what it’s amounting to. But because my only job–and a self-assigned one at that–is to read a prompt, set a timer, keep my hand moving without editing or worrying about whether “it works,” and no going back to piece anything together, there is no pressure. Something is being written, and I have no idea what it is. All I know for sure is that this wouldn’t be happening if I hadn’t stumbled onto this new approach.
2. A Conversation
Yesterday, I was talking with my parents about how this work is going and growing. It was a parent-daughter kind of conversation, one where they’re interested in what I’m up to and I’m happy to be telling them about something that excites me to no end. We were at a reception following a beautiful memorial for my aunt, my mother’s oldest sister who passed away in December. Our conversation kept being punctuated by relatives; I met more second-cousins-once-removed than I knew I had.
And then, in a moment when our attention turned back to the prompts and the writing, my father surprised me by saying that he’d like to sign up for one of my groups. He said he wants to start writing as a way of unearthing memories about his identical twin brother, who passed away ten years ago. I could not have been more moved or thrilled by this.
Between these two experiences, a new writing group offering began to take shape in my head. I decided to give it a name. And now I’m putting it out there.
One Story: Ten Facets
Like any gem, every story has many ways of catching the light. Look at it from over here and its color appears rich and opaque. From another angle, the same jewel may seem translucent.
What would happen if you gave yourself two weeks, with the encouragement and support of a small online group, to explore one story from ten different perspectives? Let me explain more with some questions and responses:
What do you mean by “story”?
“Story” could mean anything — a person, a place, a thing. Simply put: A subject. Memories of your late brother. A road trip. A relationship. Being a certain age. A kind of food. An experience that altered you for better or for worse. The garden. A time of day. The intention is simply to choose something and return to it each day during our time together, with a prompt as your springboard to see it in multiple ways.
Do I have to have an idea already, to participate in the group?
Not even a little bit! Our first day together will be all about brainstorming. You’ll have a chance to free-for-all before zeroing in on your subject. Even then, it does not have to be well-defined, nor will there be any expectation of a finished “product” at the end of the group.
Then what will I have at the end of the two weeks?
At the end of our time together, you will have ten freewrites, all unique and yet in some way interconnected. These will offer you a multidimensional perspective on something that may have lived one-dimensionally in your mind but that you knew had many facets.
What you do from there is up to you. Your ten pieces of writing may fit together somehow, or provide you with insight you didn’t previously have. You might turn these into an essay. You might share them with someone in your life. Or you might do nothing more than appreciate the fact that you showed up every day to a blank page or screen, to some person, place, or thing that is compelling to you for whatever reason. This is always more than enough.
How does it work?
The group will be structured much like my other online writing groups. Ten prompts, ten minutes a day, encouragement to write complete drek–and not to “fix” it before sharing, and a private (secret, in fact!) Facebook group–where participants offer and receive support, feedback, and reflection on each other’s writing each day.
Where do I sign up?
Just click on over here for dates and to register for the first-ever One Story: Ten Facets group.
Can I get in touch with you if I have other questions?
Yes, please do! I love hearing from people, and will do my best to answer any questions you might have. Just drop me a note. And as always, thank you. For reading, for writing, for practicing with me.