When I was a child, my mom had given me a journal set for Christmas. She always told me I was a good writer, nurturing that little zing that keeps my hand frantically moving across paper to this day. I aspire to be a writer because I love it. I’ve always been too shy to say it out loud, though. Until tonight, that is. And so I found myself in Cashmere’s Mission District, with the prologue of my novel in my sweaty, tingling hands.
I have been writing a novel for over two years and I sought the camaraderie of the local Bard. I found it at the Writers Meeting Writers event, hosted by the Snapdragon Café. Tonight, I was to read a piece that no one else has heard, to an audience of writers whom I’d never met. Timed. I stood behind the microphone and then the words just came out.
The friendly faces on the other side of the microphone exhibited a look I’ve come to recognize as “writer.” They knitted their pensive brows and bent their ears as I introduced myself. They were not only writers, they were personalities in their own right. These were the names and faces behind the stories that had inspired me since childhood, whose biographies ended with, “lives in Washington and roams the hills with their dogs in between writing a third novel.” Before now, writers have always been removed from me yet they had the power to move me in so many profound ways. The writers before me were my neighbors.
The event was like a poetry slam, but with the whole bard. Readers were prepared for four-minute readings with an intermission in-between. I showed up early because I was so excited. In fact, I showed up a day early and did not realize what I had signed up for until about 2 pm today. After about two hours in what I imagine felt like giving birth, I had prepared a semi-final draft of the prologue of my novel.
As their faces blended into listening, the words flowed out. I began to feel as free as a bird had to hold myself back from character intonation. Then they clapped. I felt the story in my mind being born into caring hands. I believe this experience exemplifies the vision behind the event, presented by Write on the River, North Central Washington’s own writing organization since 2005.
WOTR’s mission is to foster the writing arts, sustain a vital writing community, and nurture writers from inspiration to publication. Their members enable them to hold events year-round, including conferences, workshops, and events such as this, with distinguished guests in the writing community and those pensive writer faces. This is the second event that I’ve attended, and what I take from it continues to deepen and grow.
During intermission, I took in the sunset on the front porch of the Snapdragon Café and visited. Everyone was wonderfully pleasant and hailed from Cashmere, Leavenworth, Wenatchee and the greater community. They represented diverse modes of writing and publication, and each had their own savory-sweet brand of passion. I was moved by ever reading. The pieces were delightful, thought provoking, humorous, and everything in-between. By picking names from a hat, WOTR had orchestrated an amazing world of imagination and created a visual-mental opera. I was amazed at how four minutes could feel like being curled up with a good book…with yummy smoothies, coffees, and vittles within arms’ reach.
I’m very grateful that Write on the River and their many volunteers are making it possible for writers to connect and exercise their craft with paper and a red pen. I’m also profoundly grateful to my dear muses for their encouragement to make my childhood dream a reality.
Find out how Write on the River brings together writers at www.writeontheriver.org, where you can also become a member and support writing in North Central Washington.
Cashmere, WA, 18 August 2011