Many of us have been meeting virtually the past year through the pandemic, and are inching our ways toward meeting in person. The outdoors still feels like a better option, so when my local writer’s group talked about meeting outdoors, we looked to our town common as a great central meeting spot. Last month the rain kept us meeting virtually, and this month, despite lots of storms through the week, we finally managed to meet in person for the first time since March 2020.
The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the common was people of all ages walking the paved pathways around the edges of this public space. Next, some teens had a ball and had created their own version of volley ball, despite the lack of a net. Children ran in circles enjoying time at the small playground at the back edge of the common.
We found the gazebo empty, so brought some extra chairs over and set up our group. The summer flowers planted around the gazebo have thrived in the wet weather. These summer blossoms made me smile.
My co-leader Amy figured out how to create a link so members who were not able to join in person were able to take part in the gathering as well. Our first effort at having a hybrid in person and virtual meeting was a success!
Amy recently published the first of her series The Children of Camelot: An epic fantasy saga, and practiced reading aloud from the first chapter for book publicity she has planned. Other members read aloud from works in progress. We enjoyed hearing a poem written by a member who had been struggling with writer’s block. Yet another shared a memory of summers at her grandfather’s house on a lake in New Hampshire.
Through the written word we traveled in our imagination from long ago, to timeless legends, to expressions of feelings in current day. Fiction and non-fiction are all welcome. Throughout our gathering, others visited the playground, passed by the gazebo, and headed for home as storm clouds darkened the sky.
We have had no clear road map for making our way to the other side of the pandemic. Figuring out how to include others, whether they can participate in person or virtually is a side benefit of what we have learned in this time of enforced separation. Making time for voices to be heard has had a powerful impact on many of our lives.
This writer’s group has been meeting for over three years now. Until last year our group has always met at the Bellingham library. We meet every 2nd Monday, 6:30PM. Check the library events page for details and to register.
A simple premise launched the group, the idea that writers would bring something they are working on and share it, reading aloud and inviting helpful responses from others who join us. It’s worked for us. We welcome visitors and new members, and invite writers to keep joining us.
The town common feels like the perfect place to gather as we figure out how to meet together again as writers. A common space. Everyone is welcome. Bring what you have and share as you are able. And yes, happy trails, while enjoying the outdoors, the flowers, the paths, and the benches that offer a place to rest awhile.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.