Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rituals build trust

A line or two from Lynne

Young children thrive on routine and structure. Predictable and consistent routines make them feel safe and secure--ready to learn. Why wouldn't writers feel the same way. We do.

Like young children at the beginning of a school day, we file into one of our member's dining room between 7 and 7:10 pm one evening every other week. Funny, we arrive in a predictable pattern, too. We do not change locations each week. This decision was made early on because of a child care need but has turned out to be terrrific for minimizing the distraction and stress changing locations each week would bring.

We place our journals and pages down at our regular seats. These seats were not assigned but chosen the first week and now no one would change them. There is comfort in sameness.

The four of us meet first in the kitchen where we pour a cup of tea and take a biscotti or apple square. The refreshments are not the focus of our meeting yet they've become a small ritual that marks the beginning of our time together. There is no pressure to bake the perfect cake; only the self-imposed pressure to write the perfect story.

If you've read the earlier posts this week written by Lisa, Amy and Hannah, you know the ins and outs of how we run a meeting. We thrive on the routine and structure. It is the calm in the midst of putting forward your work for critique.

One special ritual adds uniqueness to our group and it is our celebratory glasses. Drinking alcohol has never been nor will it be part of our meetings; we are at work in our meetings. But the celebratory glasses filled with sparkling lemonade or pear juice is my favorite ritual.

When one of us finishes a manuscript, gets an agent or a book deal, out come the glasses. We raise our glasses high, genuinely thrilled for the person for whom we are celebrating.

The structure we rely on and the rituals we've adopted have allowed us to trust each other and to be comfortable sharing our precious work. We've found over the fifteen months that we've been a group that we're all eager to do the same thing. Write what we love, share what we write and do it with other serious writers.

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