Our small, ongoing Understory groups are currently coordinated by Charlotte. They meet online. They’re ‘closed’ groups – in the sense, once underway we have a fixed membership.

It seems important to stress: these are groups to discuss and advance our creative practices; they are not therapy groups. If members feel they need extra support, it’s important to line that up in parallel.

So, what do we talk about? We talk about our creative practice. We talk about our Understories. As part of this, we bring work in progress, if we wish to, or things we’ve read or heard or thought about; or challenges; or breakthroughs…

From our experience, The Understory Conversation setting can provide a ‘space’ where we:

  • sit with ambivalence, uncertainty, mixed pots of feeling
  • make connections between us in why, and how we work, and all the doubts, and frustrations, and fruitful questions we encounter
  • visit and revisit emerging, common and usefully-contrasting themes – both within each session, and from session to session – without rushing to answers, or feeling the need to brush away dilemmas: our Understories
  • bring our unique selves into it, and are welcomed
  • really listen, and learn from hearing from, and about, each other.

As it’s evolved, the term ‘the Understory’ has taken on a life of its own. Each member seems to have an intuitive sense of what it might mean for them.

Stuff that doesn’t usually get talked about falls under it, certainly. What’s going on behind the scenes; or can feel awkward to bring in elsewhere.

And it’s not only challenges we bring: the Understory also encompasses the upsides of creative practice.

It’s really about experimenting with bringing in more of ourselves than we might sometimes feel welcome or able to.

And there’s an emphasis too, always, on the Conversation: we meet and talk and share and attune and support. There is resonance.

We join on this understanding. The group evolves. The Conversation develops.

I couldn’t come up with one phrase that distils my experience of the group. But therein lies its richness. I often feel rather pressured in ‘normal’ writing groups – to write well, to share my work and opinions, or sometimes even to keep those opinions to myself. However productive and stimulating they may be, and they often are, I find writing groups exhausting and tense. Not helped by Zoom, I’m sure. But I leave our group feeling reinvigorated and reconnected – to myself and my writing. It’s a safe space to share anything that’s pressing on my creative mind – a poem, a draft, a phrase, a thought, a feeling, a dilemma, a discovery – and I know that whatever I bring will be welcomed, listened to, nourished and returned to me with deeper understanding and compassion.

Group member

The Understory is the group I so badly needed and didn’t know how to find.  How could you possibly look this up on the internet? 

Group member

If you’re interested in finding out more about our groups, or joining one, drop us a message through the Contacts form letting us know a bit about yourself and your creative practice. We’ll respond with more information, including availability and costs.