I am lately appreciating the quiet satisfaction of reading new work to strangers, and listening to theirs. I am enrolled in two writing practices. One is Natalie Goldberg’s online Way of Writing class. More than two thousand students are enrolled, and together, on Saturday mornings, we write with Natalie for ten minute stretches. We are then bundled into groups of four by the computer, and read our work aloud to our small groups. At the end of the course, with classes taking place twice a week, ideally, I will have read aloud to forty-eight different people, and will have heard stories from the same forty-eight. I will have written about forty new short pieces, and have listened to 120 pieces by other writers. Adding up the numbers is energizing, somehow.
So far, we have written about colors, numbers, and death and suffering. We start and end with meditation practice, and the work is refreshingly good. Sometimes I have been moved to years listening to others read, and I know I am not the only one to have such a response. We do not know anything about each other, except we are mostly in our fifties, from all around the world. Somehow, we gather to read our work to one another, to validate ourselves for the moment, to be less in a vacuum.