PROMPT: June 2014: Where are you at in your writing? What does this writing group bring to you?
This prompt was written 3 1/2 years ago, in June, 2014. My life hasn’t come close to this level of turmoil since, and for that I give thanks.
What is a prompt? Check here for an explanation.
Where am I at in my writing, is the question. Where I am at in my life, is my first consideration. It’s been a years-long season of scrambling, chaos, and seat-of-the-pants reacting while taking every thought captive so I could remain calm in whatever the moment demanded.
But the season has suddenly ended. To be honest, I’m dumbfounded. This winter has been so encompassing, I’m no longer sure what spring looks like.
It’s been so long.
The writer in me rattled my keyboard during this winter of pandemonium. It fuelled my words— my struggle, my apathy demanded introspection as I transferred inadequacy onto the screen.
That’s where I’ve been in my writing.
I’m not sure where I’m at today, though, and I’m okay with not knowing.
What does this writing group bring to me?
I smile as I consider the question.
With no effort of will, nor validity of purpose, their prompts have sown thoughts in soil outside the caregiving shoe-box that has been my world for such a long time. My tiny diorama was in desperate need of variation, something I couldn’t generate myself. My fellow writers shared prompts spawned from their passions, their yearnings, their humour. The group was a God-send, each month bringing to light the bubbling surprise that there existed still within myself a world beyond the cramped locale of my caregiving cubby hole.
Here I heard concepts I couldn’t find on my own. Sure, I knew they existed, but I’d lost the ability to tug at a thread, to follow its fragile shadow of reflection. My tiny, shoe-box view had no space for such abstraction on a day to day basis, but oh, how exciting it was each time we met, each time I discovered dusky distances, and shimmering plots not governed by caregiving, old-age, and frailty, by eldercare, continuing care, dementia care, and caregiver self-care.
In this group I remembered that I could indeed think outside my box — at least once a month.
Looking back, I’m surprised to realize that the monthly escape couldn’t extend to a future beyond my distended shoe-box. You see, it never occurred to me a time would have to come when the diorama would crumble.
And now it has.
Since our last meeting, both my parents have died. One went gently, in her nursing home, attended with kindness and care. The other had a passing fraught with the shame of being a burden, dignity peeled away as his care was fractured through funding shortfalls and overworked staff.
I took notes through both. Of course I took notes. It’s what we writers do.
In a week both services will be wrapped up; in a month red tape and paperwork concluded. Next fall, their estates will be finalized.
The diarama shoe-box will be no more.
And my writing group goes on; a place to revel in the cornucopia of life, of joys and sufferings, histories and hopes, dreams and nightmares. Together we’re safe to explore, to nudge each other to peek into corners almost ready to be bathed in a light that only the written word can shine.
We call this ‘Writing Dangerously’, our group a lifeline as we drift away from our secure shadows and bring the truth to light.
Epilogue: My notes were to become a book, The Reluctant Caregiver, which was published later that year.