One of the unintended consequences of the pandemic has been to welcome writers from far away to the Rosefire Writing Circle, a place for writers of all ages and abilities to write in community and with support.
I started the Rosefire Writing Circle because I know how lonely writing can be, and also how even the smallest amount of encouragement is as necessary as breath.
As a writer, I benefited from writing circles early in my career, most notably when I was a new mother and looked forward to every Tuesday evening, where I could write with others. This first circle of women, mostly older than me, was exemplary for being leaderless. Those who hosted the group lived in tidy, childfree homes. It was worth going just to experience such domestic order. But we also took turns providing prompts to which we wrote.
My words were so bottled up back then, that I scrawled thousand word essays in twenty-minute sprints, essays that I polished before submitting to the local paper, where they started appearing in print.
In 1995, I paid up front for a ten-week workshop that met weekly for three hours at a stretch. It’s where I wrote thousands of pages of what I then whittled down into a three-hundred page novel. I joined a similar group closer to home, where I started a different book, Into the Wilderness. Published in 2010, it’s now out of print, but the ebook is still available online.
At the beginning of this century, I spent more time driving, not writing – and not just driving my active kids. I traveled to libraries, hospitals and prisons to discuss literature and teach writing. One year, I put 30,000 miles on a car without leaving Vermont. I was doing this right up until March 12, 2020, when I gave my last public lecture before the pandemic shut such gatherings down. By then, I had a wonderful group of writers joining me at the Rosefire Writing Circle every Friday afternoon.
In 2016, I designed RWC to be more flexible than the workshops I’d attended: No upfront payment, no weekly commitment. It took some adjustments, but with the help of participants over the past five years, we’ve developed a writing circle where people come when they can and pay what they can afford.
Before the pandemic, we were meeting in-person on Friday afternoons. As a result of the pandemic, we moved the Rosefire Writing Circle online.
People grumbled, “It’s not the same.”
No, it’s not.
We have better attendance. On Zoom, we have no weather cancellations for snow or ice, and we’re all eager to break the isolation of pandemic living to come together and write. And thanks to videoconferencing, people from away are able to join us from different locations and time zones.
The Friday group, all vaccinated, is currently meeting in person again. Encouraged by one participant’s published memoir, some others have started book-length projects. Others just come and write. The virtual group continues to meet on-line most Monday afternoons. And there’s room for any writer of any ability who wants to try writing to a prompt in a supportive group.
Whether you come write with us or not, I wish you may find the exact words to convey your precise meaning and thrive in good health.
Deborah Lee Luskin is currently writing a book about learning to hunt deer.