This seems like a good moment to look back to a year ago when Kat and I were setting up Nine Mile Writers. We were hanging out in Starbucks trying to think of a name. Our aims, the format of the workshop, timings, location – all of that was sorted – but a suitable name for our workshop wasn’t easy to settle on. We went our separate ways, drove home via school pick-ups and grocery stores, and emailed back and forth, but still no name.
Then, Nine Mile Writers. Not the brain-child of either of us as it turns out, but suggested by a good friend of Kat’s and it just made sense. Bryn Mawr (our location) is 9 miles north of Philly and there’s one of those old stone mile markers to prove it. We both had the sense that our writing experiences were like a journey or a voyage. Something we’d embarked on separately but enjoyed sharing. Something we’d both made progress with, but both still had much to learn and new writing to discover. Both with ideas and ambitions and both better writers for having a fun, supportive environment and time dedicated to productive writing.
Everyone who writes knows it’s largely a solitary experience. There are huge ups and downs, times of confidence and crisis, the buzz of getting things just right and the horrible stomach dropping moments of rejection. Being part of a writing group helps. It really does.
And so do those little mile markers on the road. A poem published. A personalized rejection rather than the just-not-my-cup-of-tea-but-it’s-such-a-subjective-business letter (assuming you get a reply at all!). A story on a shortlist.
A Homecoming, a story I wrote this summer, made this competition shortlist. I was pretty pleased. Here’s to another marker on the journey, a sign that I can write reasonably well and people like what they read. But interestingly it wasn’t written as part of our workshop. I didn’t show it to anyone before I sent it off (in fact I sent it off in tearing rush, late to get the kids to swim team and desperate to email the thing over to the UK where they are five hours ahead!) So, yes, I was pretty pleased to make the shortlist, but I do wonder how it might have done if I’d had it critiqued first. I’ll never know, but it’s another reason I’m glad we’re getting ready to get back on the road and travel together, with new friends and old.
Our next workshop begins September 10th.