Mainly- what did they do to me?
Something happens when you go into a prison and encounter a culture behind bars. This time I went into three prisons, each for a different reason. One was to meet with men, the other women, and the third to meet writers. Yes, writers trying to survive imprisonment.
Even though, I think all encounters were important, the meeting with the inmate writers and writers who work with them, was most intriguing this time.
We met around a large table, three on each side. Some of us had brought something to read, which is the custom of the group meeting, but this time we couldn't focus on our writing we could only talk about our shared experiences as writers.
But the best moment came when we stopped and collectively looked around the table realizing the richness of each person present. It was truly a moment! This moment could/would never be duplicated!
We came from very different backgrounds, had lived extremely different lives, lived by very different values, and probably had strikingly different writing styles.
We relished the moment, realizing that if we all wrote one chapter about our lives exploring what had brought us to that moment, we could have a best-seller - every writer's dream. Especially if we all dared to be completely honest in our chapters.
They looked at me - some said I was the oddest participant. Why was I there? I don't know.
I would need to write that chapter to really know why....