"I’ve realized that one of the biggest things we do for one another is bear witness. With the lighting of the candle at the beginning of the Circle, we bring our full attention and presence to our writing and each other. Each reader’s voice is heard and honored. For some of us, it may be the first time anyone has taken our stories seriously. Maybe it’s the first time we have taken our writing seriously. Our time together is a tremendous gift. The Women’s Writing Circle is truly a writer’s sacred space."
"If we are lucky, at some point in our lives we find a place where we feel accepted unconditionally. If we are exceptionally fortunate, we might land among kindred spirits. From the very first read-around of the Women’s Writing Circle at Wellington Square, I felt at home.
Not only had I discovered a group of women who dedicated themselves to the rigor of the writing craft, but I also encountered a wellspring of encouragement and generosity where each person read, listened and offered genuine responses to one another’s work.
As the months went by and we each delved into our life experiences for the raw material from which to create our stories, subjects closest to our hearts began to emerge and develop.
Not territory for the faint of heart, this is often a painful passage as the emotions of experiences are unwrapped, examined and relived. By its nature, writing acts as a mirror from which our experiences look back at us as we struggle with the words that do them justice. Like many in the Circle, my life events offered ample opportunity for exploration . . . the death of a beloved partner of nearly 20 years, the loss of my job and the ongoing struggle to understand my relationship with my mother – all these seemed rich territory.
Until I discovered this community of writers, however, my attempts at writing about emotionally loaded experiences were fragmented and feeble at best. It was much easier to crank out the press releases, grant proposals and newsletter stories that were a familiar staple of my professional life. When it came down to reckoning with the heartbreak, loss and utter grief of my own stories, I felt like I was in very lonely - even hostile - territory.
Oddly enough, as painful as writing could be, I also had an instinct it acted as a ground wire for me. The restless energy of my emotions constantly circulated. Writing gave it a place to go. Words gave form to the energy in my memories and I could begin to reflect on them, finding meaning especially in the responses of my fellow writers. Their acceptance and empathy were reassuring. I was not alone. I watched as others in the Circle courageously wrote and struggled with the right words for their own potent, bewildering and painful experiences."