Our first writing circle was sweet sweet sweet. There were four of us, and we did two eleven-minute writing sessions. I loved what everyone wrote. They were vivid and filled with marvelous details. My critic was up, though, and grumbled in my ear when I was writing. It was hard to keep the pen moving, to resist crossing out words as I wrote. I think I never really “dropped down,” wasn’t able to let it come through me with any sense of ease. Was that because even though I said I didn’t want to be a leader here, even though I want to be only a participant, by virtue of instigating it, of bringing the prompts, of explaining the mechanics, I felt like I needed to “perform” at some acceptable level? Or was it the cup of green tea I couldn’t resist drinking before I arrived? Or could it have been only because I haven’t done this in a long time, because I had hopes, had expectations? I wanted to feel the magic that can happen on the page. It makes me sad I wasn’t able to surrender to it. I used to find my way there more often. It used to be easy, like walking through an open doorway, like being invited in to sip tea by the big window overlooking the lake. I told Laurie later how critical I felt about my own writing, how strong and beautiful I found the pieces they each read. “Beginners luck,” she said. She wrote a prose poem I hope she’ll work with more. She told me she’d felt safe there, and that was a boon for me, balm to disconcerted ears. It made me glad and grateful. I helped make that happen.