At the Log Cabin

19 Sep

I started writing as a teenager.  I soaked up all the advice about writing groups and going to conferences.  But I didn’t know how to find a writing group, and even when I got my shiny, new license, all the conferences seemed impossibly far away.  So I kept writing, plunking away on Mom’s old college typewriter that I pilfered from the shed.

Somehow, I learned about the drop-in writing work shops at the Log Cabin Literary Center in downtown Boise.  The cost was a requested $2 donation, to cover the heating/cooling during the workshop.  What was there to lose?  I packed a new spiral notebook, my favorite G-2 pen, two back-up pens, and a water bottle.  I left early, and thus spent half an hour waiting in the car.  I didn’t, after all, want to be the first one inside.

The Log Cabin is a beautiful old building, constructed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  When I stepped inside, it smelled like wood, varnish, and books.  A nice lady directed me into the workshop, and I slipped my $2 into the large manila envelope in the center of the table.

Probably a dozen people showed up that evening.  The next youngest person was double my age.  I squirmed at the odd looks I got, looks that seemed to say Are you a writer, or some punk kid here to crash our workshop?

We introduced ourselves.  Memoirs, non-fiction, poetry, literary novels…I was the only person working on a fantasy novel.  This didn’t exactly diminish my discomfort, or the odd looks.

The instructor talked for a bit, then gave us a prompt for free writing.  When the time ended, each person had the chance to share.  One lady stopped dead in her reading, glanced at me, and coughed.  “Umm.  There’s some swearing here.  Umm.  Right.  The next sentence starts…”

Then it came to me.  I was grateful for my water bottle — my throat had glued itself shut.  I managed to squeak out what I’d written.

When I looked up, the table had changed.  Soft smiles.  A grin.  Thoughtful nodding.  I hadn’t come to mock them — I was a writer, and they accepted me.  After the class, I got a chance to chat with some of them.  Ask the octogenarian about his memoir, the middle-aged woman about her poetry.  And someone asked me, sincerely, about my projects.

I couldn’t stop beaming the whole way home.  I still didn’t know how to find a writer’s group.  The conferences were still hundreds of miles away.  But I’d spent an evening with other writers.  That energy filled me for the next few weeks, buzzed around my skull.  I poured out chapter after chapter.

That evening taught me that there’s something amazing about being part of a community.  When I got the invite to be part of Gem State Writers, I waffled.  Would I have enough to blog about?  Would I be able to figure out the technology?  But my mind came back to the Log Cabin, and I couldn’t pass up a chance to be part of a great community.  Thanks for inviting me, everyone.


Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Boise, community, Idaho, writing motivation


14 responses to “At the Log Cabin

  1. Janis McCurry

    September 19, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    The building of community for any purpose is a powerful thing. Welcome to GSW, MK.

  2. Liz Flaherty

    September 19, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    I love this! I still feel this way when I join a new writing group, but the welcome is almost universal, isn’t it?

  3. Corina Mallory

    September 19, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    That story is so sweet. What a wonderful first experience with the writing community. Shared passion is an amazing bridge between people who might have nothing else in common. I felt the same anxiety (at 34!) before going to my first meeting of my writing group. I waited in the car, quietly freaking out as I IMd with my best friend and my mom on my phone trying to build up the courage to walk into the building and say out loud that I was a writer. It was terrifying. And one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself. Thanks for joining the group!

  4. stephanieberget

    September 19, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Just being in a room with other people who “get” you is mind blowing. Welcome to GSW.

  5. Liz Fredericks

    September 19, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I’m with Stephanie . . . I think other writers are the only ones who ‘get’ the masochistic bent we all have in putting pen to pad.

  6. MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

    September 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Thanks everyone for your kind responses — I’m excited to be here at GSW.

  7. maryvine

    September 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Hey MK! Welcome aboard. Seems like I didn’t get anywhere until I joined a writer’s group. Sometimes, it takes a village to get that book out. I am supposed to meet with a 12th grader next week who is almost finished writing a fantasy book. I am definitely going to suggest she join a writer’s group.

    • MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

      September 19, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      Writer’s groups are amazing! I didn’t actually find a critique group until college…and it makes such a huge difference. If your teenage friend can’t find a face-to-face writing group, is an excellent online one, and has an especially strong SF/F community.

  8. Meredith Conner

    September 19, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    There is absolutely nothing like being in a room with other writers who get you and the way your mind works. I’m glad you joined the Gems.

  9. marsharwest

    September 20, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I don’t know how anyone writes in isolation. I mean we write by ourselves, but without the validation and support of fellow crazies . . . .I can’t immagine that. I’m just returned from Margie Lawson’s Immersion Class. Two of our group of 6 had never let anyone see their writing. What courage it took for those gals to attend. I’m not sure their families got it, but we fellow writers sure did. And just as you discovered, MK, we supported and celebrated them. While we may plunk the keys of the computer alone, the finished product is usually better for the addition of other eyes. A good friend and former CP has her first book coming out Dec. 7. THE GREEN EYED DOLL by Jerrie Alexander is sooo good. Full of gritty action and packed with emotion. I’m jumping up and down with excitement for her as she will for me whenever I get to have that experience. Glad you’re here, MK. Look forward to getting to know you better.

  10. Peggy Staggs

    September 21, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Welcome to GSW. This is such a tough business. If you’re not getting a rejection you’re beating yourself up. Sigh. Community is so important to staying sane.

  11. Judith Keim

    September 21, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Welcome, MK…I’m a newbie here and know how wonderful it is to be part of the group. The writing business is a punishing one and for those not a part of it a confusing one. We writers understand one another and need to stick together. Lots of good advice, many laughs and some tears are all part of it.

  12. Clarissa Southwick

    September 27, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    I’m so glad you decided to join us, Megan. I hope you enjoy your time here. Great post!


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