How I’m spending my summer vacation: the coffee shop project and the Cancer Is Not A Gift writing group

How I’m spending my summer vacation: the coffee shop project and the Cancer Is Not A Gift writing group

I am sitting in the Blackberry Market drinking my second Americano. This place is buzzing with conversation, fueled by the world’s best cinnamon rolls and four-shot Americanos. (Eight shots of espresso never hurt anyone, right?)

Today, in this coffee shop, I’m beginning the first day of my summer adventure. I want you to come along with me.

First, a little bit of backstory. My husband and daughter are off on a European adventure for a month, and I am at loose ends. I’m teaching this summer, and I have three academic research projects to work on, but I need to use some of this time doing something for me.

I’m not good at relaxing (eight shots of espresso anyone?), but I need to cultivate time for myself, doing things that nurture me. As I thought about what nurtures me, the image of writing in a coffee shop came clearly into view.

I am in a special place in a coffee shop, especially when I’m writing, putting my chaotic thoughts into some sort of form. I’m learning that writing about my experiences with cancer and anxiety help me redirect and reframe.

Over the past few years, one of the great privileges of writing this blog has been hearing from my readers, often in emails. Recently, someone wrote to me asking how to get going with writing. Cancer and the trauma of diagnosis and treatment had stolen her voice.

I sent her some encouragement and some writing prompts, borrowed from ChicagoNow’s Jimmy Greenfield, who sponsors a monthly Blogapalooz-hour. Once a month, he sends a prompt at 9 p.m. and we have to publish exactly at 10 p.m. His goal is simply for us to start a blog, finish a blog, and post a blog.

It works. Even when the topic has nothing to do with cancer, I have been able to write a post for the majority of the events. Knowing that a dozen other bloggers are writing at the same time, in response to the same prompt, is energizing. We only have an hour, so we just have to write.

And, this is my best advice for writers. You’ll only be able to write if you write. Writing begets writing. You don’t need inspiration and you don’t need clarity in order to get started. You just need to put one word after another down on the page. The words will work magic.

My blog has been going in fits and starts for the past few months. My day job has been hectic and my family life has been full. But, I have four or five blog ideas sketched out. I’ve completed an interview with a pathologist, and I’ve read books, and I need to get these ideas into words.

So, this is my twofold summer adventure:

Coffee Shops
First, I will be writing at coffee shops around Chicagoland over the next few months. I will briefly report on the coffee shop and how I found it, but my goal is to write a blog post while I’m there. Even if it takes eight shots of espresso.

Writing Group
Second, I’m starting a Facebook group, the Cancer Is Not A Gift writing group. We will write and share our writing. The group is a place for support. It is a safe place to write about cancer, caregiving, and living life in the new normal that happens after being diagnosed.

I will offer a prompt, and folks will write a response to the prompt and post it once a month. We will be readers for each other, encouragers, and witnesses to each other’s struggles and successes with writing and with life.

If you want to be included in the group, please email me and I will add you to the group. Everyone who joins has to write. No lurkers. But, you don’t have to write an essay or a blog post. You can write a poem, a stream of consciousness piece, anything you’d like.

If you are a writer who publishes, we will also have a thread in the group for you to get feedback on your writing. You must specifically request feedback, and comments have to be constructive.

Once the group gets going, we’ll adapt as we see fit.

I hope to hear from you soon.

The Blackberry Market is in Glen Ellyn, IL, 401 N. Main Street. The atmosphere is busy, the food is amazing, and the wifi works. Plus, four shot espressos.

MBA Mom recommended this coffee shop to me, and I’m glad she did.

Do me a favor? Click my “like” button and join our Facebook community.

If you’d like to know first-hand when I have a new post, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Filed under: Cancer, Writing

Leave a comment