A Writing Reflection

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A short rainstorm and now the sun is streaming through the windows of the new coffee shop I’ve brought my computer to. I don’t drink coffee, but I love coffee shops and this one is really perfect. It is the exact replica of what I would design if I were to open my own coffee shop, although perhaps not exact. It is very much themed in art: Botticelli, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe. I think I would theme mine with writing, but the walls, the delicate filigree on some chairs, the bright sofa under the window and the paper flower hanging lamp all exude ingenuity and initiates creativity; all creativity including my writing. It is very easy to get lost in thought and conceive of a vision that works.

This is my second time sitting here, at this same table. As I write this, I have a memoir workshop in about ninety minutes, and I’ve been here since 7:30. It’s now 8:44. My daughter “forced me” to drive her here to pick up an iced chai latte before school which is only up the road. Her incentive for me was that I could sit here and write or “whatever it is that I do” until the class, which is also up the road in a different direction. Her plan was that I sit here with my computer for almost three hours! What was she thinking?!

Well, her begging convinced me, although I’m not sure what the two folks behind the counter think of me nursing my drink until it’s time to pack up for class. I did buy (what I consider) an expensive breakfast – they have the most amazing crepes and worth every penny, although I’m not supposed to tell anyone about it. It’s being kept a secret so that it doesn’t attract the wrong crowd, by which she means people taking up space that are not her and her friends. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know about the place had she not needed a ride to and from.

I digress, though.

I’ve been trying to write this (in my head, at least) for the past two weeks. For the last nine years – I can’t believe it’s been that long! – I’ve attended a memoir workshop class twice a year – six weeks (although it started out at eight weeks) in the fall and then the spring. Two blissful hours of writing, reading what we’ve written, and learning new techniques, and getting writing tips. We come from all walks of life and it is equally entertaining and educational.

With the pandemic, the last three sessions were cancelled. It’s been difficult to keep up on some of my writing since the class is such an inspiration and motivator. We finally received the email from our teacher that we were on for this fall. I was so excited! I put the registration date on my calendar so I wouldn’t get shut out, and I began to prepare by buying a new notebook to write in for this semester. New, clean pages that will optimistically take me through several sessions.

Then the covid numbers began rising and kept rising. The library made the decision that they wouldn’t have people meeting inside the library building but they also didn’t want to cancel the session again.

They arranged with the next town over to use a pavilion in one of their parks to accomodate us. We’d be going until the middle of October, but we’re hardy upstaters, and half of us had been meeting in a different park for the last year through three seasons, and all the way into November. The pavilion had a roof to keep out the rain, and picnic tables and a dirt floor, and I did not care. We were meeting and connecting and writing.

On the first day, the library provided clipboards to lean on and the teacher brought a pile of cushions for the hard picnic table benches. I brought my own chair which I found more comfortable, but honestly, I may borrow one of the cushions next time.

The park was the perfect atmosphere for writing. A field of green grass, a cool breeze, an empty jungle gym, and a bridge we had to cross over a brook to get to the pavilion. It felt more like a retreat than a class. I took pictures – I always take pictures of places to share and to relive the moments. Sometimes falling headfirst into those photos and reliving those moments help to inspire a new series of writing prompts and ideas to plan for in the future. (I did the same at the coffee shop too. My family is a little tired of my Instagram life, photographing everything, getting the best angles, retakes – what can I say?)

There is also the added advantage that comes with fall. Fall is Back to School which is Back to Writing, and does sort of force me into the chair. I’ve got my writing (school) supplies, I’ve got some new prompts, some new plans for my website, some new angles for my book, and off I go. Out in the world, everything is a writing prompt. How could it not be, especially in fall. Leaves changing, pumpkins on porches, the smell of apples in the orchard, the countdown to Halloween and Thanksgiving and All Saints Day and Advent. And don’t forget the mums!

Everything is crammed into so little time, and we’re still postponing things because of covid.

Nanowrimo is just around the corner.

Election Day is in thirty days. No, it’s not an off year. There are no more off years.

Christmas shopping is short by one weekend.

What will the new year bring?

I just answered the question about my writing plans for winter, which was the first assignment from class. I’m not actually sure I answered the question as much as I skirted around it.

At the end of the WandaVision series on Disney + (spoilers), there was a meme based on Vision’s statement to Wanda: “What is grief but love persevering.” Online was a wave of substitutions for grief and love. The other day, because there is nothing I love more than a good meme, I thought:

What is writing but words persevering.

And I think that sums up writing for me. Taking a jumble of words and making them make sense. Form coherence. Form passion and inspire something, someone. The words keep persevering and the writing pushes on. And as I keep doing that – persevering, pushing on, plotting, and publishing – all that keeps me writing and titles me a writer.

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