My four week writing workshop is not in its fifth year, and I have resolved that no one else will ever be admitted, and that the class will continue to meet until every single person has left, moved, or gone away voluntarily. We have not met for some weeks due to the holidays and some savage winter weather.
We got back into it today, there were only five students and me in the class, and that, I see is a perfect number. Everyone gets to talk, to listen, to read. Jackie Thorne read from her high school book of poems, and her gifts as a poet were evident then. One of the students had slipped into a deep funk and told me she might have to leave the class for awhile, but the class wouldn’t have it.
We threatened to drag her out of her home – I said I would parade naked in the streets, that usually works – and she came to class and is going to write about in instead or running from it. She feels better.
Sandy Van Dyk wrote a powerful account of her trip to Kenya last year, she met an impressive young man working as a social worker and became friends, she found out this week that he had been murdered while swimming in a pool.
Amy Herring give us all her latest chapter in a young adult thriller and we talked for a long time about her character and how she makes decisions. They all asked me about my eye surgery this upcoming Monday. I told them I had asked the doctor for a patch, whether i needed one or not, and she laughed, she said I could not have a patch, she thought, unless I really needed one.
I said I would love to wear a pirate kind of patch and be rakish, along with my slouch beanie hats. Half of the class couldn’t make it, I think some are just not into writing right now. We’ll talk about it, the class might get smaller of its own natural accord.
The class are like family now, to me, to one another. We have already cranked out several books and are working on several more. Jen Baker-Porazinski has finished the first draft on her wonderful book about being a caring doctor in American in 2018. We talk about voice and fear and funks, we know and trust one another by now.
I’ve learned that trust is essential to teaching writing well. The students need a safe and supportive environment to find their voices and believe in their stories. You can’t teach that in four weeks.
I am so glad I didn’t stop after four weeks, I would not have gotten to know this gifted and marvelous group of people.
I lectured a bit about creative funks – they are inevitable, useful, painful. Joan Didion has them, Gabriel Garcia Marquez had them, so did just about every famous artist or author in human history.
They are part of it. Life happens to us all.