Writing Workshop
Inspired Memories & Hopeful Dreams

We just call it the writing workshop, but it really should be called the “Scribblers:” six to ten women madly putting pen to paper for a series of 10-minute writing prompts. There’s not a single laptop in the room. Can you believe it? How refreshing!

As I look back in 2017, I’m amazed at how the small writing workshop I’ve guided has cohered. Excited women come faithfully to the weekly two-hour gathering. We write and share, write and share, write and share, and go home inspired.

Sharon, a novelist and poet, collects bits and pieces of writing that eventually enrich her prize-winning work. Carole has started a blog, using some of the mini-essays she’s written in the workshop. Nancy wrote a song for the March 15 return of the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio. Connie wants to write a book about her Peace Corps service in Botswana.

Margaret combines her exquisite photography with her writing. Arlene, a painter, has been delighted to find that she also has a way with words. June, faithful and full of fun, keeps a box of writing prompts to dip into at home. Sondra is working on an article about her participation in the women’s march on Washington.

Amy, in ten-minute spurts, has created beautiful finished pieces on her closeness to nature. Several of the women have entered and won various local writing contests.

One of the women puts it this way: “It gives me time to reconnect with my personal soul and all those memories of days ‘way back when’ I was younger… back when I didn’t yet realize how impactful those memories would be to me as I grow older.”

Every summer we leave our writing room nest and venture out for a peripatetic afternoon writing trip, most recently on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We stop three times to write for a half hour, using prompts I have designed for each place. Then at our final stop we have refreshments and share some of our work. On such trips we have made stops at an 1862 country church, a new state park, an 1800s general store, an old cemetery, a llama farm, a labyrinth, and more.

This year we went even further: an overnight writing trip to Hot Springs, with stops to write at Penland School of Crafts and Yummy Mud Puddle pottery-and-junk-art studio. In Hot Springs we relaxed at Elmer Hall’s Sunnybank Inn, with a sumptuous vegetarian dinner, and breakfast, and cozy accommodations. Sunnybank is a place where early 1900s song-catchers recorded the old Appalachian ballads brought earlier from Scotland and Ireland.

So what’s next? It’s a given that the women will look forward to January 2018 and a new start to the writing frenzy. January and February will feature two writing “paloozas,” each one five hours straight of writing. Why such a marathon? Because the weather in western North Carolina is iffy at best, so one monthly date plus snow dates seems best.

I’m always dreaming dreams for our writing group. What if we drove to an interesting spot with a good bit of foot traffic, and set up a circle of chairs with a sandwich board that reads “WRITING WORKSHOP: 2 to 4 p.m. Today. Come join us!” Or why not go on a two-day writing trip to a city or town where a well-known North Carolina woman writer lives? Maybe she would take some time to meet with us. Or what would be the ultimate writing trip, the big dream? How about the Greek Isles? Whatever happens, it is sure to be hours of inspired writing and spirited sharing among a close-knit group of writing friends.

Written by Janis Gingermountain