New RWB attendee, Laura Malone, started her April reading with a short piece about her first time at happy hour. We asked her if we could reprint it here, because we want others to know that everyone is welcome at our gatherings. Laura trembled when she read, but pushed through her nerves. And we are glad she did. Her presence and her story are a welcome contribution to our community. If you’ve been thinking of attending a Red Wheelbarrow Happy Hour, don’t be shy. Follow Laura’s example and jump in!

by Laura Malone

A good friend is in the process of writing a teen Science fiction novel. She has been to a few of the local writing groups and suggested I join her last month at the Red Wheelbarrow group.

On the first Saturday of the month the Red Wheelbarrow writing group meets at a lovely Irish pub that the bartender opens an hour early so that they can meet and read aloud 5 minute portions of their work. Friends, spouses, editors and general supporters are also welcome to join in. There is an empty pitcher to chip in for the bottles of wine being passed around to share and an assortment of nibbles. Note to self…. bring a snack next time.

I am so glad she suggested I tag along! I love people, books and people who love both. I was excited to see a new side of it and curious if I would find a connection here for myself. In a way it seemed like a behind the scenes pass to the dressing room after a show or a peek into the kitchen of a favorite restaurant.

The group was a comfortable mix of many different types of people working on many different types of projects…poetry, memoirs novels and I think at least one short story. They were warm and kind to each other catching up and introducing themselves to the newcomers.

As everyone settled in, I could sense the tension of preparations for the coming sharing of their work. Pages and tablets appeared in some hands as they signed up for the order they would read in. After a quick self-introduction around the circle of about 20 people, they got right to it!

A flurry of different styles and stories were shared over the next hour or so. I enjoyed every moment. The people were attentively listening to the others work and they enthusiastically clapped at the end for all. They used a timer to keep to the five minutes, but they also used a soft kind hand at the end if the writer was at a crucial point of their work or hadn’t notice the buzzer went off.

When all had finished there was a palpable sigh of relief and appreciation. Some stayed to relax and mingle while others gathered up their snack trays and left quickly. We lingered a while to find out a few more details of the writing retreats and to chat with a few of the members. Overall it was lovely! I knew I would return and that I would bring with me an offering that I would read aloud…voice shaking or not. for the tough part…What am I going to write about and why. More and more at this point in my life I am especially guided by asking the question and listening to the answer of the why….Going to the group and listening to the others read what they had chosen to write helped me sort this out. Time has also helped me know that we all have something to say. Whether it is to process an experience for ourselves, share an experience with others or create something from scratch that is as compelling to create as it is to consume the completed work.

I have wondered before if my experiences over the last few years, my ongoing commentary in my head and what I have learned from it all are the makings for something to be written down and shared. At the beginning and in the midst of the tumultuous middle, it just seemed like toxic waste that should be cleaned up and incinerated. However, now that I am further along the path, I realize it might do me some good and offer someone else swimming trough a similar rough sea a glimpse from the safety of shore….My why….

The years since 2007 would provide me with more than enough material to work on and would allow me to jump right in and avoid my strong skills of procrastination.

Warning: [I’ve got] no writing experience, no reading experience probably too many analogies as well as grammar that some would consider tortuous!


And even with “no experience,” Laura offered us a heartfelt reading that took us right into the heart of her journey of self-discovery and growth. Join us with a five-minute reading of your own (or just come to listen). We meet the first Saturday of every month at Uisce Irish Pub in downtown Bellingham at 4pm. Come on down.