A new member of one of my writing groups recently commented that they had felt nervous before they arrived at the writing session, but joyous by the end. They had felt welcomed and included in the group but had clearly not expected to experience such intense and positive pleasure while sitting in a room full of strangers, writing.
I don’t mind taking a little credit; I pride myself on making people feel welcome and at ease. I always stress, at the start of a writing session with people who are new to the experience that they cannot do it ‘wrong’. Skill and technique can be learned and polished, of course, but the pleasure for me often lies in hearing someone express their own words – theirs, no one else’s – for the first time and to hear others around the table respond with warmth and interest. We are all in this together.
Our retreat next week will bring together 8 people with their own plans and dreams, their own writing voices and preoccupations. Kath and I are immersed this week in last minute preparations, fine tuning our plans and paying close attention to the small details which we hope will make for an excellent retreat. While my head is buried in lists and menus, I am taking a few moments to pop my head up and imagine the joy I know I will feel when our guests arrive and we all sit down around the big writing table together. I am imagining the pleasure of hearing people share (if they choose to) something of their writing, their reasons for writing and where they are on their writing journey, whether early steps or further along the road. We all have those stories to tell.
Next week we will be blogging and tweeting to give an impression of the retreat as it happens. There is no substitute for being there, though. That will be the real joy.
PS. Apologies to C S Lewis for stealing his title. Once I had thought of it I simply could not unthink it.