Once upon a time, I found a secret door. Oh, I didn’t know it at the time, for the door was not very secret, and actually not a door at all. It was more like an access point to a world of peers that I didn’t even know I needed.

I only knew that I had words inside me that wanted to come out. Sometimes I’d shake a few loose onto a page and poke at them for a while. They’d mostly lie there, or roll over and sigh. But just when I thought I’d backspace the lot of them, one would wink at me, or a couple of sentences would get together and do a little mambo. I was at a loss for what to do with my recalcitrant text.

“I have things I want to say,” I’d tell the blinking cursor.

“Say them, say them,” it blinked.

So I did. I started by writing a short story or two, and a poem here and there. I took one of those poems to the newly formed Writer’s Group at Main Street Reads, my local bookstore. The group was small, and appeared friendly. When it was my turn to share, I pulled out the page with the poem. Earlier that day when I wrote it, I was sure of its greatness. The inky words had waltzed across the pale parchment in a dance so divine as to make one weep silently, if not sob aloud at the aching depth of their beauty.

Mouth dry, heart pattering, I began to read, and as I did so, an evil spell descended on my perfect prose, rendering it merely… okay. The words of my soon-to-be friends were encouraging, but nary a tear did I spy among them. And in that moment I knew they were right–it wasn’t bad, but I could do better. Each week I’d try again. Each week I’d learn some new way not to write. And by this laborious method, I began to sharpen my pencil into a little font-fighting sword, honing and hewing at my craft with the help of my new companions.

I now know that this secret door in the unassuming town of Summerville leads to a hidden Society of Scribes, where words are counted, characters are arced, plots are plotted (or pantsed), and only adverbs are shunned. All others are welcome here with whatever stage of writing they tote along with them.

We come together weekly to wield our wee weapons, this motley swat team of ours. We seek out and destroy all the wrong words which relentlessly infiltrate our pages. We have much talent in our present group, with many among us possessing the gift of finding just the right words to encourage the rest of us at just the right moments. We share freely, and from the heart.

We have no leader, no resident expert, save Shari, our Wizard Behind the Curtain, who wisely leaves us to our own capable gropings for greatness. The trick for such a magical place is to maintain the spell of the Beginner’s Mind. As we go forward into a new year, new people will come into what is now an established group. That is much harder than joining at the start. My hope is that we take them as they come. Some will bring pirouetting prose, others will bring words on life support, barely clinging to consciousness.

 “Come on,” we’ll say, “Show us what you’ve got. We don’t care about your tech skills, your font, or your spacing. It doesn’t matter if you can program the space station satellites or can barely cut and paste, we just want to know what it is that you need to say with those sweet words of yours. Shake ‘em out on the table and let us help you poke at them a bit, and then you can take a jab at ours. We’re all still learning here.”

Lee Warren-a writer, poet, and amateur philosopher, currently resides in Summerville, SC. She sips wine and looks to the stars, while careening through space on a lovely blue ball, scribbling insights she gains along the way. Her current novel in progress is The Singing Stone—a metaphorical tale which imagines the power of harmony infused into a magical stone as the key to conquer the blight of evil. She approaches life as she dances—with desperate enthusiasm and wild abandon—which is to say, she laughs heartily, and falls down a lot.