Report: The Icebreaker – New Directions

An anonymous contribution

I joined New Directions (CAP as it was called) in April 1995. I heard of the group through a friend who had been a member for a while. I liked what I heard and so was willing to it a try.

Initially I joined to partake in the Writer’s Group. I had had involvement in two writers groups previous to this, neither of which appealed. They had drawn the rules, no deviation, no experimentation, toe the line. Not for me.

It takes time to write, time to draft and redraft short stories and poems. In April 1995
 time was one thing I had a large supply of.

Things on a social scene had reached rock bottom. I found myself isolated, insecure, alone in a city of one million. Not a unique situation, but one which only now I can comprehend.

The Celtic Tiger had not yet reared its head, unemployment was rife, but I was one of the lucky ones in that I was fortunate enough to find a job. All my social friends at the time were unemployed. My good fortune was soon to be resented.

At the time I was moving a lot around the city – a few months in one place, a few months in another; work was the only stabilising factor in my life at this time. I’d call someone wanting to know what was happening on the weekend or what had happened recently. Inevitably I found out about a party or something or other. The same question “Why didn’t you call me?” The same answer “No way of getting in touch”. Which was untrue. I have easy access to a phone in work and using it doesn’t present a problem.

Time progressed and I found myself increasingly isolated. I found myself dreading weekends. The thoughts of stopping in on Friday and Saturday night while the rest of the world was out enjoying itself almost drove me crazy. The writing was on the wall for a long time but I was looking at it through dark tinted glasses.

Day after day, night after night, alone, pondering, wondering, waiting, writing my loneliness away. Wanting someone to knock on the door, waiting…but it never works out that way, eh?

To say that New Directions when it came was a Godsend would be an understatement. It was a lifesaver. I found myself in an atmosphere in the Writer’s workshop of honesty, respect, and a place where I could write about my innermost feelings. I knew almost immediately that what I wrote would be respected. It was indescribable, almost as if I had stumbled on the Promised Land.

Eventually I plucked up the courage and attended the Friday night speaking club. The first night I went I decided to make an ‘Icebreaker’ speech. This entails telling the audience about yourself, your life, why you came to the club. I stuttered for two minutes and thirty-four seconds. When I sat down I was shaking like a leaf.

Two years later I still get nervous at the thoughts of standing at the podium to deliver a speech. I realise that this is a positive energy and that this nervousness has fuelled my own progress in the club.

Praise must also be given to the drama workshop. Don’t worry if you’ve never acted. No one there will win little gold statuettes. You are there to conquer yourself more fully. Not to mention the fact that in the drama workshop you have a lot of fun.

New Directions is a place where I can teach, learn, and cultivate friendships. It is based on warmth, sincerity and mutual understanding. With its drama workshops and speaking clubs and individual ethos, New Directions is an organisation I would recommend to anyone.