They never want to write.
Oh no, they'll say, with a groan, sigh and shooing away. I'm not a writer.
I cajole and convince until they relent. And then, suddenly, gathered around the table, they dive in, energized and present, uncovering memories and fears, trials and joys, writing their stories, their selves.
We're the Columbia Basin Writers, a clutch of senior citizens connected loosely by a single thread: the nursing home where they live. We meet once a month to write and recall, to chat and share. I'm the annoyingly cheerful leader who, with help from a writer-friend-volunteer, takes us through poems, prompts and writing games.
Sometimes they forget we've met, that they've penned poems and stories and had fun doing it.
Sometimes we take dictation as the prompt unwinds the mind and loosens the past. And then what, we ask, tell me more. We write fast every falling word.
Sometimes they write, though hands shake and arms ache. The pen moves slowly, with great effort, guided and braced.
And this, I think, is the real success: to crave expression so much that you'll work against tremors and fear, against rust and ache, fighting the body to write the words, to write your mind. This is everything.
And then we share, and the room swells with comfort and pride. And I think this is real writing, in this small room-turned-safe place, these reluctant writers pushing against the challenges of pain, age, memory and loss. With every word they say I am here.
Please join us — in person or in spirit — to celebrate the act of expression and the power of writing.