This blog will have no editing, will not have anything erased or corrected, it will be as it is on Thursday nights sitting at the table, pen in hand flying over the spiral, fresh and bold, and unfettered by the mind’s editor. It is writing down the bones. It is based on one true thought.
I saw my friend last night. We used to see each other every single Thursday at a table at Borders (don’t we all miss Borders?) promptly, or thereabouts at 7 pm. Each of us wondering, “will she come tonight?”
Back in 1998 I don’t even think I had a cell phone, and am pretty sure she didn’t. So, we’d be sitting at the table, one of us waiting for the other, and it was one of the most amazing times of my life, and it gave birth to an amazing thing aside from this beautiful friendship.
We met at a big table in the basement of the local library on a cold January morning. It was my first foray into a writer’s group, it felt like AA, and I was petrified. I’d been writing for 8 years, but had never been with writers. It felt like a secret, and if you’re a writer, you’ll understand. Going to my first writer’s group was like having to acknowledge this part of my life that was solitary in its essence, but obviously could not remain.
My friend is dark haired, and her voice is as beautiful as the ocean on a sandy beach. Soft, husky, her laugh is gold. Her poetry is so honest that I could not look away from her when she read it, I had to watch, but I felt like I was intruding on the most sacred part of herself. Her pain, her beauty, her reality.
One day before we knew each other, she said to me, “I know why you are here. You are here for me.” I was not one to be so bold as this to say something like this, to think she would know this of someone unworthy of such a thing, truly, but I believed her.
My friend’s writing is brave and powerful and so much of who she is, that when she reads it aloud, I feel that she’s entrusted me with her heart and she places it lovingly in my cupped hands–glistening, and beating, life blood rushing through it, and I hold it gently and the beating matches my own heart, until she takes it back. It’s truly like nothing I’d ever known.
We just wanted to write, my friend and I, so we devised a plan to meet on Thursday nights and “write down the bones” using the principles of Natalie Goldberg’s book “Writing Down the Bones.” We started with one true sentence or thought, (harking Hemingway) and we’d time our writing and then read it. No editing, no passes, just bravely read.
Oh, the words that flowed, and the very way we felt honored and protected to put it out there for another. It opened my heart and mind and made me brave. There are no words to express it, even though, I am a writer and I love the English language almost like I love my husband or children or myself. And yet, in these early months, in the dog days of summer of 1998, it was a time that I cannot express in words the value it is to me. Kindred spirits doesn’t cut it.
After a time, people began to wonder about us, were drawn to the women who sat every week writing and sharing, and would approach us and ask if they could join us. And soon we were pushing tables together and scraping chairs along the floor to accommodate the group, and coffee was offered, and thoughts and ideas were expressed, we called it Writer’s Anonymous (WA). We’ve seen more than 200 writers pull up a seat at the table through the years since two women sat together with the sun setting behind us writing down the bones. They’d pass through and leave themselves with us, and then move along on their own journeys.
My friend and I, we’d find each other in the midst of this big amazing thing, the hum of writing, the throwing down of glasses, the shyness and the boldness of it all, and remember the birthing of it. Our gazes would meet above the fray and we’d know from the bottom of our hearts that it’s true–my friend, this is why you are here.