Last night was the last meeting of our ward's writing group. I have loved attending the writing group, and loved doing the writing (though I admit I've only finished a few of the assignments). The facilitator is a wonderful woman (my advisor's MIL, incidentally) who is an example to me of how to live a full, productive, and faithful life. I feel privileged to know her. I was apprehensive to move into this huge ward, where I imagined it would be easy to get lost and easy to never find friends. I'm so pleased that hasn't been my experience. They are so careful to watch over everyone and to make sure everyone has a place and a job. All too often it seems like once a woman reaches a "certain age" she's relegated to the family history center or some similarly "age appropriate" calling. In this ward the talents and hard-won experiences of these women of a certain age are used to their fullest, typically in teaching us younger women how to grow into the vibrant, talented women we can become.
Anyway, I read an essay I wrote in February on the plane to Providence. The response I received was probably the highest compliment anyone could have given me--people discussed their own lives and their own difficult, testimony-challenging experiences. I trembled after reading the essay, and wasn't even sure I wanted to look into the faces of the women around the table when I was done, I was so scared I'd offended one of them. But no, they took what I said, and accepted it, and shared the way their own lives brought them to similar conclusions.
As scary as it is, I love sharing my thoughts and hearing the responses of others. Sometimes I think, hey, if this science thing doesn't work out, I can become a writer! Then, I sit down in front of a computer and convince myself I'm doing research by reading other people's blogs or news stories, and don't actually do any writing. Which was why it was nice to have a group I met with physically to share writing. Sure, I had an online writing group for a while (technically they haven't kicked me out yet, but I'm sure someone will eventually) but online groups are relatively easy to blow off. Meeting with people--with friends--in person puts more pressure to actually DO some writing instead of merely thinking about it. And hearing the writing of other women is inspiring and has been a great way to get to know them in a more meaningful, deeper way than is typical through just church interactions.
So, maybe when I get to San Diego I need to find a group of writing friends to force myself to actually write. Assuming, of course, that getting a post-doc doesn't pan out and I have to find some other way to spend my copious free time. Or maybe I'll have to start posting goals and achievements to my blog to keep myself motivated, since having goals and a little bit of competition seem to help me.
In the mean time, here's a poem(ish thing) I wrote for the group:
I don't like the way this starts
Beginnings are always hardest,
Full of blood and water, the carnage of birth
Painful, the shadow of death lurking behind the midwife's back
Every beginning unique, but how to capture fickle interest of
A reader with catastrophe on her mind?
In the beginning, it was the best of times, once upon a time, it was dark and stormy, when a truth, universally acknowledged...
Hang it all!
Baby cries on the table
Cold and hungry
Covered in the vernix of a long gestation
Beginnings unimportant in the face of her living
Growing so quickly beyond the way she began
I'll come back to it at the end.