Some friends of mine started a writing group around the beginning of the last decade, and this is how I first met them. I am so deeply grateful that I did, as they are the loveliest people and writers: Leah, and Nathan, and Melanie. And RaasaLeela, who was in town visiting Leah for her birthday at the very first writing group and so offering her magic to the group.
The way it worked was this: one person would host and feed us all delicious food. While we ate, we bandied about prompts that came to us and everyone wrote them down. Then we’d all sit and write, trying to use all the words in the prompts, or veering off into wherever the prompts took us. Then we’d go around and read what we’d written to the others. There was something mystical about what would happen, about the stories that would come through. More often than not, the same mermaid or rainbow or jetski would appear in more than one story even though it wasn’t the prompt. You know what I mean? Love would arrive — not that it had ever left — and we’d write down what it said.
This went on for a number of years and one by one we were called to other places — Nathan to Pennsylvania to teach, Leah to Berkeley to make films, Melanie to Baha to marry and write and take pictures. I stayed here. Left a few times and came back. Others joined the group and it changed to something different and I met more dear friends, all lovely writers, lovely worshipful people.
When I moved to California last year, Leah started another writing group and we met in a yurt. It was just a delight.
I think what I am getting to here is I am always in a writing group with these people. It doesn’t matter where anyone lives or that we meet and write together every year or two or three. Like we did Monday night on RaasaLeela’s farm.
The prompts were: “lightning,” “bumper-to-bumper,” “bulimic,” “sooth,” “ferment,” “fig,” “party” and “overwhelmed.”
Here’s mine. Or, at least, here’s what story came to me to write down. I don’t really think of these things as mine.
Believe me, he said, this overwhelm
you are seeing everywhere,
lightning-round life where bulimic girls
are throwing up at rest stops,
is something you are dreaming.
It can be just this complicated,
just this mystifying,
or you can let something warmer, something more
ferment at the very back of your dream,
like a fig, maybe,
and you will forget suddenly about all the things you found so annoying because they are
gone from the dream, as fast as that,
and what’s left is the quietest little party, everyone humming dance tunes,