Atria Wr Grp Jan 2015 - Version 7Another around-the-table group. Each writer brings his or her copy of about 600 words to share. It can be an essay, on-going manuscript, or continuation from the meeting before. We divide the time amongst the number of readers. The reader decides how to use the time. Half read. Half feedback. All read. Feedback is thoughtful, helpful, caring, and astute.

The average age of the writers is 85. I have the privilege of being the facilitator for The Atria Creative Writing Group. They meet weekly; I come in once a month to teach a mini-lesson on writing revisions and feedback. In May we celebrated our one-year anniversary. These writers are now accomplished at critiquing. No one interrupts. There is no crosstalk. The writers take notes on ideas and always, always do the reading homework. It’s a writing group paradise.

We’ve been using The Revision Toolbox by Georgia Heard. I often bring in excerpts from Stephen King’s On Writing, and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.

Most of the group are writing their memoir as a family legacy. “The kids don’t know anything about their great grandma.” “My children never heard of an outhouse; they can’t fathom a one-room school house.” “They sing about a one-horse open sleigh, but have never even seen one.”

These writers are showing and telling their stories. And I am blessed to hear them firsthand.

Another benefit of being in the company of these writers is to see and feel the friendships. One writer shares–another nods her head and wipes a tear. Another writer shares–her companions laugh in recognition. Still another shares–her friend leans over and hugs her at the conclusion.

Yes, I believe in writing groups.

Next blog: Scriveners Writing Group: Deep Roots