Last night I attended the monthly meeting of my writers’ group. This group used to meet at my university in Adelaide, but this is no longer suitable because most of the participants no longer work or study there. Instead, we meet in a comfortable church hall in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. It’s a 35 minute drive for me, somewhat shorter than the previous 50-55 minutes, depending on traffic.
Last month we were set a writing task for this meeting. Six of the group had prepared stories to share last night, but these readings and the subsequent critiquing session was postponed. Our leader, Mark, has experienced a tragedy only 36 hours before. His son, a talented writer in his own right, an occasional participant in our meetings, had suddenly died. It was a good opportunity for Mark to unload on a group of supportive friends and fellow writers. Normal proceedings were suspended and he just talked and talked about what he was feeling, and the circumstances leading up to his son’s death.
After an hour, he left the meeting. We had some other short stories and poems prepared to read, leftover from the previous month. It wasn’t how we planned the meeting to go, but in the process of letting Mark talk – and show his feelings – we not only helped him, but also helped each of us come to terms with the tragedy.
I also believe it has further strengthened an already very strong bond between us as a group.