My mother joined a writing group at her local seniors’ centre 2 or 3 years ago. The group is facilitated by a retired high-school English teacher; they meet once a week and present stories or poems they have written on whatever topic was assigned the previous week. My mother writes from her life, she doesn’t do fiction. She says she can’t write about something she hasn’t experienced herself. Her offerings are more often than not the hit of the week. The director of the seniors’ centre publishes my mom’s stuff in the monthly newsletter and on the website. The other night she told me about this week’s assignment (a torrid affair) and said she can’t write about that, she doesn’t even know what “torrid” means. She will write about it, in her own way, and it won’t be some romance fluff piece, it’ll be something that no one has ever associated with “a torrid affair” and it will be good. She probably won’t start it until Monday morning (the group meet Monday afternoons) and it might not seem to be on topic at all, but it will come to her and she will write. She said to me, “I can’t make myself sit down and write. It’s just something that needs to come out. I feel like I have to get it out of my system, and then I sit down and it just flows.” It is amusing to me to hear my mother describe her writing process in exactly the same way that I would describe mine.

Here is a little something I just had to get out. It was a couple of months ago and it was late and I couldn’t sleep. This is why.


I stand alone in this crowded room, surrounded.
This is all so new to me; not the aloneness, but the circumstance.
There are thirty to forty people here.
There is maybe one I recognize.
There is mingling, there is milling about.
The obligatory meet and greet.
We say hello, are introduced, chit-chat and retreat; move on.
I stand alone – and wind up with you beside me.

I stand alone.
It’s different now; I know these people.
The cast of characters hasn’t changed but the circumstance sure has.
We’ve been together a number of years now, this motley crew and I.
There are thirty to forty people here.
There are two I don’t recognize.
We still mingle and mill about.
We say “hi!” and laugh, converse, commiserate, hug, move on.
I stand alone; I watch.
I wait for you to show and wind up here beside me.

You enter and suddenly I stand alone;
in the middle of a conversation everyone fades away until there is only you.
I am amazed at how the room can dim and be so brightly lit all at the same time.
We stand alone – you and I together.
Me with you beside me.

I stand alone in this crowded room, surrounded.
Again, it’s all so new.
The old gang’s all here, along with about a hundred more.
Just another meet and greet.
There’s mingling, crying, hugging, “I’m so sorry,” shake hands and move on.
The deafening sound of the hushed whispers is more than I can take.
I step back and realize:
I stand alone – with you nevermore beside me.


Do you write? Is it just something that bubbles up out of you, threatening to explode if you don’t get it down on paper?

Categories: family, words | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “writing

  1. Yes, I write – but you, chica, have just made me well up with your words and I think it would be almost insulting to say or do more than applaud you right now.

  2. Running from Hell with El

    And I, to simply third Astrea.

  3. i loved this post because that’s how it works *when* it works. when we force things, we work harder and the words don’t come as easily. a lot of it for me has to do with intention, motivation: “what *am* i trying to say here?” another way to help or hinder is if we have a person in mind. when i write, that if we have only one person in mind hoping to read what we’ve written then for me, it’s harder. if i think universally, it works better.

    i am happily sharing the love that was shared with me: http://grassoil.blogspot.com/2012/05/good-blogs-sharing-liebster-love.html

    thank you for being so real.

  4. Duffy

    I’m in love with your mom. I love the lonely whimsy in your piece.

    • Thank you. Yes, my mom is pretty cool. She got her driver’s licence at about age 60 and her laptop at age 84. When she had one of her first angina attacks, she called 911 and was waiting outside for the ambulance when it came. The EMTs were pretty impressed. 🙂

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