I belong to a group of writers that meet every morning at 7:00 a.m. (except for Saturdays, when it’s 8:00 a.m.), to write to a prompt, provided by our fearless leader, Connie Kinsey. As a disclaimer, I do not make it every day. In fact, I took a hiatus for several weeks recently because of health issues that had arisen for the cats and for myself, plus other household chaos. I just couldn’t get up and get going in time to be there when the group started writing. What I learned from missing “group” for those few weeks was, if I don’t go, I don’t get as much writing done. It’s a fact I can’t dispute.

My friend Sharon Waters invited me to try the group almost two years ago, after meeting me at Table Rock Writers Workshop. We were in Denton Loving’s Memoir Class together, along with Sharon Shadrick, and all three of us got along really well. I’ll never forget the first day of class, when she was telling everyone about the 7 a.m. writing group. Denton and I shot each looks from across the room that more or less said, “What lunacy is that?!?” Neither of us is a morning person. So, when Sharon Waters invited me to check out the group, I politely declined at first, explaining there was nothing I was willing to get up at 7 a.m. every morning for. I meant that. I was firm in my convictions. However, after some prodding, I finally acquiesced and attended a few meetings. Aside from Sharon Shadrick and myself, both in Tennessee, everyone else is based in West Virginia. I found that I really enjoyed the group and got a lot out of the prompts. 

We meet via Zoom, of course. We take a few minutes at the beginning to catch up and say hello, then Connie gives us a prompt and we all go off and write for thirty minutes. We come back together and usually, most of us read what we have written. We call ourselves the Roools Schmoools group because there aren’t many hard-and-heavy rules other than respecting the other writers and yourself. So, sharing what you’ve written isn’t mandatory, but 99% of the time, all of us do it. 

It is not a critique group. We tell each other what we like about each other’s pieces. It’s a community of uplifting. If we want to go to a critique group, there are plenty of those available through other outlets. The same with detailed workshopping. We can ask for opinions and advice, but we have approximately 30-45 minutes each morning as a group to read and respond to each other’s pieces. If we really want in-depth feedback, we probably end up asking someone in the group if we can email the piece to them for more specific suggestions. 

On Wednesday, we have “Word Wednesday.” Each person in attendance provides one word and the object is for each person to fit every word into a written piece. Trust me when I tell you, the vocabulary runs the gamut and then some! Friday is my favorite day, though, because that is “Ekphrastic Friday,” a day where we examine a piece of art, sometimes famous, sometimes not so famous, and write about it. I love writing ekphrastic poetry and have had a lot of great material bubble up out of our Friday sessions. On Sunday, I believe they sometimes have “Sermon Sundays,” where Sharon Waters, who is also a pastor, delivers a mini-sermon that attendees can then write in response to. (I sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays – call me a slacker, if you wish.) 

In conjunction with the recent West Virginia Writers Conference at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, WV, the Roools Schmoools gang met for a little pre-conference retreat. Due to dwindling writing funds for the year, I had to miss the first day, but made it in time for lunch and the afternoon Micro-Memoir session led by Connie on the second day. Joining up together in person was even more meaningful than seeing everyone in our little Zoom squares at 7 a.m. I learned a lot, but best of all, got to know my sisters-in-writing even better. 

That evening, we kidnapped Larry “Rock & Roll” Schardt and had dinner at the nearby Fairplain Yacht Club, a local restaurant, and my mouth is still watering over the amazing Jameson Burger I enjoyed that night! We read at the Open Mic at the Conference on Friday night and just engaged with each other every chance we had throughout the weekend. I came away with an even greater love and appreciation for the group and its members than I’d had when I left to go to the conference. It means a lot when you find a group you click with – maybe not on all cylinders on every day – but enough that you keep on keeping on and know that there’s something special to wake up to when your cat head-butts you at 6 a.m. and tells you it’s time to get going. 

A big thank you to all of them for inviting me, for continuing to make me feel welcome, and for helping to nurture me each and every day. You make a huge difference in my life, friends!