Monday, July 30, 2007

Wales 7 - Writing Workshop

The ostensible purpose of the trip to Wales was the Writing Workshop. I'd never been to one before and didn't know what to expect. We had a bona fide writer leading the workshop. Actually, someone who has extensive experience in teaching writing - Kim Stafford director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College..

I was pleasantly surprised. Starting in Nome, where we spent the first night because Wales was fogged in, we regularly did little writing exercises. Our first exercise was to "take a line for a walk." After about five minutes or writing we stopped, volunteers read what they wrote, then we were supposed to pick a line we really liked in what we wrote, and start from there.

We got another assignment to just write a run-on sentence - we weren't to worry about proper grammar or anything like that, just keep writig your thought.

Saturday, in Wales, when we had all the participants, we did an assignment on "What makes me want to live?" I'm attaching a page Kim printed out with one or two lines from most of the participants. These are pretty short and anonymous and they've been printed and passed around so I don't think I'm betraying any confidences by posting this here. I'd love to put up a couple of the pieces that were printed in the booklet at the end of the workshop. Even though people picked what they wanted in there, and it is pretty public by virtue of being in the booklet, I don't have anyone's permission to put their stuff up here, so I'll pass on that.

I've never really written in a group before, where we shared our writing with others as we wrote and it was an interesting and useful experience. I explored ideas I wouldn't have come up with on my own. I also got a better focus on things I sort of knew. Since this was my first and only such workshop, I don't have much experience to base recommendations for such things on. Things I know contributed were: 1) an experienced, articulate, thoughtful facilitator, 2) interesting and diverse participants who brought a lot of different perspectives and ideas to the table, and 3) being in a pretty isolated place. There was only nature and nice people to distract us pretty much.

Oh yes, I would also add that many of the people in the group identify themselves as artists rather than writers, so some of the participants led art exercises. We did watercolors one afternoon and made little books out of beautiful pieces of paper. All - the writing, the watercolors, the bookmaking - were incorporated in the booklets Kim had published on his new printer that he'd carefully carried all the way to Wales.

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