Strange encounters would be fodder for writers’ group

Vicki Mashek Bailey grew up in Dodge, but lives in Oregon now. Occasionally she calls.

Odd thing is, she almost always calls when I need a good laugh. Not that everything she says is funny, but it’s good talking to her.

She and her husband, Dave, have refurbished a little cabin on the coast into a nice home. They don’t stay there all the time, but it’s there when they need a boost.

The other night we were talking about how things happen that seem odd or oddly timed, but turn out to be good. Like the little walk they took a while back, where they stopped at a yard sale at a home they’d always admired for the flowers and greenery. The man had died, and the woman was moving to Portland to be closer to family.

Just as they were leaving, the woman came out of the house and threw her arms around Vicki, hugging for a long time. Vicki wasn’t sure what she was saying because she was Japanese and slipping a bunch of Japanese words into the conversation. I think. Stories get lost when you can’t rehash them as you go.

Anyway, the woman quit hugging, backed up, sighed aloud and hugged again. Vicki doesn’t even know her, but has admired the gardens for years.

“She must have needed the hugs,” David said.

Maybe so, but what I find even more important is the need to write down this little encounter. By writing something like that, you can always remember how anything can happen and how that anything can mean a lot without you even knowing.

Because I believe that’s so necessary, I’d like to start a writers’ club. We could meet once a month in members’ homes and read something we’ve written specifically for the meeting. When I lived in Wisconsin, there must have been 30 or 40 writers’ groups around the state, and once a year we had a big two-day conference with big-name writers giving workshops. I’d like to see that happen in Iowa, but we’ve got to start someplace, and that place would be a local group.

Please believe me when I say I don’t want to sound snotty, but the club would be for writers who would be willing to hear constructive criticisms without going to pieces. Any kind of writing would be allowed, from poetry to short stories to novels. Anything. We’d just have to keep a rein on anyone who only wants to hear how wonderful his or her work is. It might be, but other writers might have an idea that would help even that wonderful work.

When you write, you rehash in your mind the good, the bad and whatever makes you want to drink a glass of wine.

Linda Darland says her grandma drank a glass of wine every day and lived to be 96. Works for me. Maybe we can have wine when our writers’ group gets together. Let me know if you’re interested. In the group, silly, not the wine. Or maybe the wine.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at