One of the great joys of my four months in Flagstaff this year was that I very quickly found and was embraced by the literary community and found myself attending storytelling events on the weekends and literary readings every Monday night. Even better, I became friends with other writers and was invited to join a two-month-long writing group.
The group, composed of four women with very different writing styles and projects, met every Thursday at a wine bar or coffee shop through the months of March and April.
Elizabeth, our organizer, wrote poetry and prose that connected somehow with the physical world. Her big project at that moment? The Telepoem Booth: an old telephone booth where you could climb in, use the rotary dial to dial up a poem, and listen to a local poet reading through the receiver.
Kerri had written across a variety of genres and was in the process of writing a screenplay.
Holly, formerly an astrology columnist, wanted to get back into fiction.
And after years of content writing and now travel writing, I wanted to start playing with fiction and poetry again, myself.
The beauty of the group was multi-faceted. It was scary and wonderful to have people reading and commenting on unfinished work. It was fun to hear what other people were working on and to draw inspiration from that. I loved our weekly tradition of sharing what books we were reading (a tradition that pushed me into finally reading my first Vonnegut book and put Kelly Link on my radar). And, most importantly, I was glad for a reason to force myself back into my creative writing projects. Every week I had to send something for the group to read, and so my creative work rose on the priority list. I could no longer put it off for more deadline-driven stuff. Because now it was deadline-driven.
The result of that rising priority on my creative work is that I’ve now started a work of fiction that I’m genuinely excited about.
Excited to wrestle with. Excited to polish. Excited to explore and wrangle and even edit. And excited to share with the world, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
It’s too new to share very much of the premise with you yet, but I will say that, like so much of my non-fiction work, it turns on the theme of our humanity. Who we are as human beings. Who we are in terrible, difficult situations. How we act and react, for better or worse. And how to try to redeem ourselves when we are worse.
It’s a human story. It’s also an alternate history story. And I’m three chapters in.
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