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  • Writer's pictureRichmond Story House

My First StoryHouse Drop-in

This past Monday I had my first opportunity to experience a drop-in writing workshop at Richmond Story House. I’m a bit hyperbolic, but it truly was a dark and rainy night in Church Hill. I parked my car and just up the block could see the warm and welcoming glow of light bouncing off the brick sidewalk outside the Milk River Arts building. It was a small group of us, and, after a brief introduction, Rachel handed out the prompt: Holiday memories. For 40-minutes the only sound was pen on paper. Unlike the procrastination hurdles I face at home (load the dishwasher, tidy my desk, have a snack, walk the dog, do a load of laundry, anything else? Anything?) before sitting down to write, for some reason being at a table with strangers and a piece of paper lit a spark I had not felt in a while.

When time was up we had the opportunity to share our stories. I learned about Christmas traditions like the Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration, Feast of Seven Fishes, and how others formed new traditions after they moved away from home. The best part for me was the lack of pretension or self-consciousness, how little we second-guessed or felt the need to correct or edit our stories. We shared memories, and laughed and despite being all different ages from different parts of the country with different traditions, for that hour we were just a handful of women around a table who felt a lot less like strangers.

Recently, I’ve been listening to the podcast “Dolly Parton’s America” a series about Parton’s music and influence on our culture. One of the best parts of the series is learning about Parton as a songwriter and how influenced she is by personal stories not only to preserve memories, but to emotionally connect with others. It seems unbelievable that a somewhat hokey little song like “My Tennessee Mountain Home” can resonate with millions of people globally, but it does because memories create a universal thread to a bigger story. My first drop-in felt a lot like that, a little song we all wrote together that disappeared into the night as quickly as it came into being.

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