July 16, 2010

Writing workshop

Last Saturday there were twelve of us who met in the garden at the Women's Resource Center. It wasn't yet too hot at 10 am. I was hoping to make a space where we could write together about physical experiences.
We started with some icebreakers: saying our names with a gesture to remember us by. Then we each taught each other something we used to do as children. One person would do her movement, and the rest of us would do it back at her. I was nervous people would think it was goofy, but it turned out to be fun, and people were clever, like the woman who kissed the woman who was standing next to her, so we all had to kiss the cheek of the woman standing to our right.
Afterwards, I asked people to write about what came up from doing or seeing the movements. What memories? I asked them to embody those memories and try to get them on the page.
To my surprise, everyone wanted to read afterwards. I was interested in the narratives that expressed some of the feelings of childhood, especially in how they shape identity. Some people described a childhood memory with an adult voice, but there were a variety of stylistic approaches, like more metaphorical or poetic or sound-based or journalistic responses -- and we talked about each one. In particular, we talked about whether it's truly possible to write in a child's voice. I asked the question because I was thinking about how it is that writers can embody a physical experience -- childhood or otherwise -- and translate it to the page.
It was pretty hot by the time we ended at 1 pm. The weather seems to have cooled down a bit, but we're going to meet again tomorrow, an hour earlier, and share a page or two of writing we did this week. I'll write more after we meet.
But I want to express how exciting it was to get a sense of everyone's writing, and to work with such thoughtful writers. Their experiments stayed with me this week as I was writing. I was also happy at everyone's willingness to work together.

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