Today’s Zoom meeting (29th August) was extraordinary. Seven writers came together, some with last week’s brief of writing about family, one regular to listen in and critique, and newbie Harold. It turned into a very emotional gathering.
One of our fiction writers, let’s call him X, read his short story set in the trenches of WWI. It was about brotherly love and family tragedy and in reading it aloud, possibly for the first time, the author had tears in his eyes. It was incredibly moving.
One of our budding poets, let’s call him Y, was working on two poems, one for each of his teenage daughters and part of a legacy project. Towards the last line of the second poem he too was overcome with emotion and left the room for a short time.
Another writer, let’s call her Z, was in tears listening to those two poems and recalling her wonderful relationship with her late father.
There was a poem about a much-loved nephew, and a prose-poem for a super-hero mum. There was also a poem about never met half-siblings and cross-siblings, due to the secrecy of emotionally dysfunctional parents. Or maybe they were just ‘of their time’.
So why can we write about emotional issues, and read them in our head, then end up in tears when we read them aloud? Of course there are scientific explanations as to why we cry, but saying something aloud perhaps makes it more ‘real’. Being moved emotionally has been described ‘as the sudden feeling of oneness with a person or other entity’. Being empathetic towards fictional characters, memory triggers, or simply writing and speaking about someone we have loved can have this effect.
Today as ever, there was lots of positive but honest critique, but for those who feel that artistic creativity is surplus to human requirements (look at certain politicians as examples) I would say that creativity is one of the things that make us human; able to mine our own emotions and relate to others. It is cathartic, an outlet, a journey and a gift we give to others.
At our previous meeting on 1st August, which I missed due to messing around with bees, Debbi, Bev, Adam, David, Paul and new guy Antony had a great discussion and in depth look at pieces of work in progress and gave and received some great advice.
Today (15th) Debbi was otherwise engaged but happily we could still all use her Zoom link (so sorry that Jo Wright had techie problems) to read those edited pieces, and also some new work. There was an in-depth discussion and critique – poems from Chris, Bev, and Sandy, Paul’s manuscript, plus Christian’s excerpt from his latest novel. I then ran a mini-workshop, with the brief to write about a particular member of our family - living or passed, liked or hated who make us happy or exasperate us, or both! Maybe a family member never met for whatever reason, or a fantasy sibling. In lockdown there has been a lot of focus and rethinking on this subject. We wrote for just 15 minutes and everyone (except me!) came up with something. I think we all admired Sandy’s poem about her grandfather, which started on a sweet note and ended bittersweet with Sandy’s knowledge that her grandfather’s smoking habit would eventually kill him. Adam, who is now blind, wrote movingly about his father taking him on walks and talking to him about nature. Adam said it was hard to talk about his dad, who is happily still with us, and the line about words ‘swelling and clogging my mouth’ were poignant indeed. Bev wrote about her never-met great-grandmother Mabel who played piano and toured cinemas and music halls, and who had the best parties in the street. I read an older poem of mine, but vowed to have one by next time about my cross-sibling whose name I may never know.