In a burst of wild originality, I’ve named it “The Scribblers”, and it is composed of myself and three former pupils, for the moment. These three hardy souls attended not one, but two writing courses of mine – and, finding they haven’t had enough, they were clamouring for more… Except, an even mildly advanced course is no picnic to prepare and teach, and I’m quite up to my ears as it is in my own writing, and theatre, and commissions, and talks. Besides, the times being what they are, it is not easy to find a library/school/club/town council willing to organise – and much less sponsor – a writing course…
So one night in January, over dinner, I proposed this: leaving a proper course aside, why can’t we meet, say, once a month, taking advantage of the late-night openings of the library for now, and write together. Make exercises, discuss the craft, play writing games, read our efforts to each other… this sort of thing, you know. A writing group, I guess.
Before I could end the sentence, we already had a dedicated chat on Whatsapp, and were making plans, and tossing ideas… And after all, tonight is the night. Half past eight at the library, to scribble to our heart’s content.
Can I confess I’m nervous?
It’s not so much that I’m expected to shepherd the thing somehow. I’ve taught writing classes for these past… oh, ten years. I’ve a bunch of games and exercises at the ready. I think I can manage two hours of group-writing.
Rather, the question is: can I group-write for two hours?
Because the fact is, I’ve never done it. Not really. I’m of the lonely variety, of the sort who seldom – if at all – lets anyone see a written word until it’s gone through much work and revision… Unless it’s a play to workshop – but even then, most of the time, I Write Alone. And yes, I’ve read on the benefits of writing in pairs and groups – for one, Judy Reeves makes it sound quite wonderful – but I’ve always thought it something perfect for other people. Tonight I’ll have to sit with three others, and not just give structure to their effort, but write with them, and then share the raw, awfully first-draftey result. And while I like and trust the girls, the feeling is unnerving. I’m going to feel the tiniest bit naked, I fear…
Also, there is the fact that I’ll have to do it in Italian. It may not seem a big thing, but the fact is that I haven’t written in Italian in ages, fiction-wise. Non-fiction, yes – and blog posts, and little else. My notes I take in English, no matter in what language I’m reading or listening. Even plays I tend to draft in English first, and then Italian. English has become my writing language of choice. It might even be that I feel safer in English? So tonight writing in Italian will take away yet another layer.
See what I mean? See why I say I’m nervous? Ah well. In a few hours I’ll know. And it dawns on me that perhaps this is stepping out of my comfort zone, too… Not that it makes it less unnerving.
I’ll let you know.