“Everyone … has something important to say,” proclaims Barbara Ueland in If You Want to Write. This is a phrase I’ve used hundreds of times with students in Writing Workshop sessions, as we reminded ourselves to listen actively to classmates as they shared their work.
Maybe all each of us needs is opportunity.
My colleague Jane Harris and local author Rebecca Sloan (Branches) provided emergent writers with that opportunity on Saturday, as several parents from the Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools gathered in their own Writing Workshop. It was a beautiful experience. This wasn’t your traditional workshop, Jane informed the rest of the Link team. “These ladies are serious!”
This group of aspiring authors is a sub-group of Link’s Parent Book Club in the district. When the group read Becky’s book last spring (at the recommendation of Jane Kessler, owner of Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights), Becky joined the group and has become a full-fledged member. Having a published author in their midst has been motivational to several members, as they acknowledged a desire to write their own stories.
Unlike elementary students, who often need support to get started, each of the parents came to Saturday’s session with a piece they had started and wanted to pursue. Some works were fiction, others non-fiction, and one mom is writing a memoir of her experience growing up in the foster care system. The ideas are there. The words are there. They just need time and opportunity to put them to paper, and the fellowship of other authors to guide and encourage their progress.
It is also wonderful to reflect on how these moms, while doing something so good for themselves, are inspiring their children to pursue their own dreams – not to mention modeling a love of literacy.
At the end of any Link program, we ask participants to identify what they liked best about the time together, and this session was no different. I’ll close with a few of these comments as they speak, much more eloquently than I ever could, to the value of this time together. Which is to be expected … they’re the writers, after all!
I liked …
… sharing my ideas and being critiqued on what I created
… getting new and better ideas and inspiring information
… being able to hear others share their writings
…the sense of community in sharing support and ideas
… the energy
… the positive comments
… the spirit of sharing with other women