I wrote this piece recently as my “President’s Letter” for the September edition of the Story Circle Network Journal. This tells the story of how I became involved in this wonderful women’s writing organization and why it has become so important to me over the years.
Recently, our new board member and YouTube Channel coordinator, Candi Byrne, requested that our Board of Directors each make a five-minute video on the topic of how we came to Story Circle Network and what has kept us here over the years. “Keep it simple,” she said. “No need for anything special. Use your phone or Zoom to record yourself and remember to smile with your eyes.” Candi plans to take snippets from each of us to include in a short video that will premiere on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at our first Virtual Mini-Conference entitled, “Taking Your Writing to the Next Level.”
When I finally whittled out some time to do my video, I followed the other instructions Candi had offered. I ran upstairs and changed into a solid-colored shirt, found a not-too-busy background for recording, and sat so that I was facing the light. So far, so good. Candi had suggested one take might be just fine, so I also had that in mind as I made quick notes about what I planned to cover. I love Story Circle Network, so how hard could this assignment be? I hustled the dogs upstairs to watch television with my husband and came back down to an empty room. After settling into my chair, I checked to make sure the lighting was right and then hit record. One take, here I come!
I started off strong, talking about how a Los Angeles writing friend recommended SCN to me, knowing that I was in need of a supportive writing community. I mentioned how lucky I was that I was placed in e-circle 6 where I was immediately surrounded with warm and encouraging writing sisters, many of whom are still in that circle with me twelve years later. I then spoke about how pleased I was at being accepted as a presenter at my first SCN conference in Austin, where I arrived with my presentation ready for the next day, complete with my handouts. Ready, that is, until I attended Susan Albert’s pre-conference workshop with a few dozen other women and realized that not only had I not gone deep enough in my presentation, but I had also underestimated my audience.
As women read their work after a timed-writing exercise, I understood right then that I was surrounded by wise and wonderful women who had been to hell and back in the course of living their lives. They knew about pain, suffering, and survival and they were comfortable enough with themselves to openly share poignant personal moments punctuated with deep reflection. I went promptly to my hotel room, rewrote my entire presentation, and rushed to Kinko’s the next morning for new handouts. Just before starting my workshop, I looked up at the roomful of women. Right there on the front row sat my entire e-circle 6 group, grinning and waving, ready to cheer me on.
At this point in recording my video, I knew that doing it in one take was not going to happen. Why? Because tears were streaming down my cheeks. I dried my face and started again. Five takes later, I produced what I hope was a decent video. I had to omit the stories I just recounted because I simply couldn’t tell them without my voice breaking.
Why do I stay here at Story Circle Network year after year? The answer is simple: those wise, wonderful, and supportive women are still here, and more arrive daily. SCN is a place for women writers at all levels to gather, feel cared about, and share the joys and trials that have shaped them into who they are today. I continue to be touched by the openness and honesty of the women I encounter at SCN, and I count myself lucky to be among them.