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A few months ago I joined a non-fiction writer’s group that meets twice a month. This is my first experience with a writer’s group. I didn’t know what to expect; I approached it with trepidation.

On my first visit five writers showed up. Each person had a worthy story to tell and each writer told their story in a unique way. Two gentlemen are working on war memoirs: one from the Korean era, one from the Vietnam era. Their writer’s voices are as different as the circumstances of their experiences. Each, however, writes honestly, with well paced and organized prose. Each is determined to find the best ways to engage the reader. One woman is writing about the years she had spent living in Iran. Another woman is writing the heartbreaking story of her deceased son’s life.

Beyond the tales themselves lay camaraderie and a generous give and take of support. Writers listened intently to each other’s work and offered thoughtful comments about what they liked, what they wanted to know more about, and when pressed, offered ideas for solutions to problems.

Each subsequent gathering has consisted of a slightly different mix of people. And each time we meet, I’m astounded once again, by what the new people bring to the table. One man, upon his initial self-introduction, mumbled almost unintelligibly that he writes outdoor stuff. He sat quietly, with his eyes downcast and his fingers fidgeting with his sheaf of papers while everyone else around the table read their work. He offered no comments or suggestions and appeared almost bored. How stunned I was when he sputtered forth in a thick Texas backcountry voice with a 700-word piece about a fishing trip gone awry that had already been published! He kept each of us on the edge of our seats for his entire reading.

It is refreshing and inspiring to realize how many accomplished writers there are in this community. I come home from each gathering with a renewed appreciation for the numbers of stories there are to be told and the infinite ways there are in which to tell the stories.

Now, what do I have to contribute?