At the beginning of the 2015 school year, Mel proposed the idea of starting a writing club. It would be a place for a few of us to come together, share things we’d written or were working on, and get feedback. A way to motivate us to keep writing, and a place to share our work. As the year went on, a group of 5-7 of us met consistently, once a month, and writing club became one of the highlights of my time in Guatemala.
For our first meeting, Mel asked that we write a true story—something that had happened to us. As the group was made up primarily of teachers I knew and liked as acquaintances, but not as intimate friends, I came to the first writing club with a superficial story of a travel mishap. I soon learned, however, that writing club would become not just a place to share stories, but a place to bare your soul.
Throughout the year, my writings became more and more personal. This group of acquaintances became confidants of a sort. They were people who knew my biggest insecurities, and accepted and supported me as I accepted and embraced some of theirs.
I never dreamed writing club would become a therapy session. And of course, it was much more than that. Each month, I looked forward to hearing the submissions of my fellow writers. Their pieces blew me away with the depth of thought, the craft of the writing, the beauty of words put in a certain order. These people have a gift of turning poetry into music, prose into phrases that stick with you for days to come. I wish I had a written copy of everything that we shared. I wish we could publish it!
Last night was our last writing club of the year. (My last writing club—at least with this group—ever). It was a bit bittersweet as we realized we wouldn’t be gathering again. I’ve been so inspired by these people to learn, practice my craft, improve my writing, take chances in life, embrace the adventure, take on a new hobby, etc etc etc…
I ended up sharing my work last, and I closed with a reflection on all of the things I love and will miss about Guatemala. When I finished, there was dead silence. Not normal – my writing hadn’t been that shocking or awe inspiring. To break the awkward silence, Annette asked, “Can I start? Okay, Sue, we really planned tonight as an intervention…” And then everyone went on to write me a postcard (and Mel pointed out that each postcard had a photo of a single woman on the front, which was poignant) addressing all those insecurities I’d shared throughout the year and assuring me I am well and truly loved. I got teary eyed then, and I’m a little misty again as I’m writing this. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—I am so blessed to have met the people who make up my family here in Guatemala. It’s rare to find such community in a place, I think. So much support, love. Blessed is the only word to describe it.