It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon, and six of us are gathered around the many-leafed wood table in the back room of The Writer’s Workshoppe in Port Townsend, each reading one of the pieces we wrote earlier: Michael describes the old gas Chambers cook stove in his mother’s kitchen; Kay writes about her dog Zoe that slept under the dining room table; Laura writes about a sand dollar, embarking on a litany of questions (how many legs does a sand dollar have?); Vonnie writes about an acorn with its small beret; Brenda writes about skipping a grade in grade school; and Holly writes about the jars lined up in her pantry in Indianola, filled with lentils, beans, and black forbidden rice.
For the last four hours of this rainy Saturday afternoon, we’ve alternated short periods of meditation or relaxation practice with writing practice, using writing prompts from The Pen & the Bell, taking breaks to stretch, do Qi Gong, refill our cups with coffee or tea, grab a few grapes, almonds, or chocolate, then resume our writing practice.
We’re tucked into the brightly-painted back room of the bookstore, where proprietors Anna and Peter Quinn have created a unique haven for book-lovers. The moment you step in out of the rain, you know you’re in the hands of people who love books. The walls on either side are lined with books, organized not just by the usual genres, but other categories: “the best fiction with a non-linear plot” or “the best kick-ass female characters. “ The tables are covered with book paraphernalia: every size and shape of journal, coffee cups for writers (Revise: You Know You Want To), even clocks for writers (Write. Now.) hang on the walls.
This is a store that is worthy of a pilgrimage, and we’re grateful to be able to spend a rainy afternoon here, writing together.
After the workshop, we take a break for dinner and then return to find the space transformed; all the tables are moved back, folding chairs are set up in neat rows, and friends are already seated in them, in fact. We perch in front on wood stools, reading excerpts from The Pen & the Bell as Halloween revelers pass by outside on the rainy street.
We’d love to teach another workshop in the spring, we tell Anna as we head out the door at the end of the evening. We’ll let you know here on the website when we’ve scheduled it. In the meantime, you can join us by trying out one of the writing prompts we did together that afternoon:
For three minutes, observe what you see (either literally or in your memory) as you enter your home through the door you use most often. Take note of what objects or plants surround the entry point; take note of the door itself; take note of how this area of transition is arrayed. Then, write about all these details, discerning what they tell about you and your life.
Yours in gratitude for the Writer’s Workshoppe and all who support writing in community,
Holly & Brenda