In October our writing group, the Mid-Michigan Word Gatherers, will celebrate 10 years of meeting on Thursday mornings. We’ve come together to write every week except Thanksgiving, and Christmas/New Year’s if those holidays happened to fall on a Thursday.
The MMWG began at the Lyons Township District Library, where Vicki Reinhardt, the group’s cofounder with me, was director. After some nasty small town politics led Vicki to depart, we left too. We’ve been happily meeting, and expanding, at SoZo Coffee Roasting and Espresso Bar in Ionia every since. Rodney and Mindy Hensley have been the best and most generous hosts we could have ever imagined!
Our group loosely follows Pat Schneider’s Amherst Writers & Artists method, which holds that:
1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
2. Everyone is born with creative genius.
3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writers original voice or artistic self-esteem.
5. A writer is someone who writes.
We also follow the AWA’s Essential Practices, which create “a safe environment where everyone is free to explore within their own writing and listen to each other with respect.”
1. Everyone’s writing, including the leader’s, is treated with equal respect and value.
2. Writing is kept confidential and treated as fiction.
3. Writers can refrain from reading their work aloud.
4. Responses to just-written work reflect what is strong and successful.
5. Responses and exercises support the development of literary craft.
It’s been a privilege to facilitate this group and to watch writers bloom as they grow in courage to express themselves, confidence in their own unique voices, let go of judgement, and risk uncertainty to create with abandon.
To honor our 10th anniversary of writing together, the MMWG’s annual “Gathering of Writers,” Saturday, Nov. 3, at The Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness, will center around Erich Fromm’s famous quote: Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty. It feels fitting.
Here’s to another 10 years!