Having visualised our rooms and chatted, we each chose a starting point and free-wrote for 15 minutes.
I chose to write about the classroom where we’ve have met 12 times, recalling some of the memories it now contains:
Writing Inside Out
The red wall of the garden room
Gazes at the seven windows, impassively:
Rectangles of brick and leaf and sky.
It is January and we hang our memories on a washing line
With little pegs from Wilkinsons.
In the spring Jane writes about a writing desk,
Leading us by the hand back into her family history.
Fran sees a world of terror in a Roman mirror
And Chris remembers the school trip to the dark museum –
A bad alternative to swimming.
In the summer a man shouts something from the street
While we sit in here, writing about landscapes - from photographs.
Lynn loses herself in the desert and, in the autumn,
Geraldine travels the world and returns a refugee,
Not recognising any place as home.
And one day, Romesh, who says he cannot write,
Writes about going out and the dread of returning
To things unsaid and unspeakable.
All of us in our little rooms,
Going out and coming back.
After sharing our writing, we pooled our thoughts about what we’d learnt about the process from writing together over a year:
- How emotions discover themselves in the process of writing memories, rather differently from social talk in which emotional is often restrained
- How writing about the past can bring things to mind so sharply that new details and new words are found
- How writing helps us connect things that previously appeared disparate, and makes conscious words’ metaphorical resonance
- How ‘direction’ and ‘pattern’ might be found through diving into a stream of consciousness
- How, in a writing group, words and images in each other’s writing percolate into our consciousness and can reappear, translated, in our writing.
- How writing feeds off other language modes and mediums.
NWP outreach director