When I first started my Writing Circles, this was one of the biggest questions in my mind. Who would want to participate in a writing community where we would be sharing fledgling words, witnessing each others’ growth, and learning together as we went along?
As I put adverts in local village magazines and stuck posters up on notice boards and telephone poles, I felt like I was calling out, “Welcome! Please join me, whoever you are, wherever you are! You know who you are, even if I don’t.”
Slowly and surely, names and registrations started trickling in. Who were these people? A scientist, a nurse, a yoga teacher, a children’s author, a journalist, a physician, a social worker, parents, artists, teachers. The mix was wide and wonderful. Not everyone was a professional, published writer, although some were. Not everyone had a degree in creative writing, although some did. Some had left school at 16 and had learned to love reading, writing and storytelling outside a formal structure. Some had written and edited reports as a part of their jobs but were thirsty to explore the realm of open creativity. What everyone had in common was a desire to write and share their words.
Each time I’ve run a writing circle, I’ve found that the different backgrounds of the participants add interest and layers of perspective unique to that combination of writers. I love that I get to cross paths with people whom I might not have otherwise met. One of the biggest sources of joy for me from my Writing Circles has been that so many different kinds of people have come forward.
When I describe my role in the Writing Circles, I consciously call myself a facilitator, not leader or teacher. It’s not that I teach people how or what to write, it’s more that I look for ways to let the stories we already carry within emerge onto paper. I spend my energy thinking about how to create a container for varied creative processes. My aim is to shape the time so that people leave with words falling out of their minds and into their notebooks. My expertise is in finding ways of ‘opening doors and windows’ as one recent participant put it. The participants, the writers, are the bringers of content and desire. I facilitate bringing that content into being. Perhaps I am practicing a midwifery of words.
Writing Circles are not just for established writers. We welcome and thrive on contributions from participants at all levels from all types of professions. You don’t have to be a published author with several books and by-lines to claim your own words. You just have to show up, sit down, and write. Doing so in the company of others who have walked wildly different paths from yours to arrive at the same table is both eye-opening and inspiring.
So, if you have a pocketful of stories and an itch to put pen to paper, join us. We’d be delighted to hear what you have to say. Registration now open for courses starting January 2017.