twelve weeks and grateful

Today was the next-to-last class for the current run of my Creative Non Fiction course.  I don’t talk much about my classes here.  That’s because for any person taking a writing (or any kind of art) class, there is a level of personal risk invested.  For lots of people, just signing up for a class like this requires a measure of courage.  Whatever kind of art you make, it’s part of you.  And when you share that art or even your own special process of making it, that’s like baring a part of yourself for what is to you, scrutiny and judgement.  My job as facilitator is to create a safe space in the hopes that people will take those kinds of risks and take their art to a new level.  I like to think of those classrooms as a nest: where ideas are born and fostered, where the world is not allowed in until those ideas are let loose to fly.

I know what the rewards are for anyone who dares tell a story, that’s why I do it.  And being able to participate in the unfolding of a story is a greater gift than its new (or old) writer could ever know. 

If I’m honest, after twelve weeks I am looking forward to getting Saturdays back for awhile.  But, as always, I’m also thinking I’m really going to miss spending Saturdays with a group of people who have grown and evolved into something very special.  Kind of like a snowflake – most beautiful and utterly unique.  Today I’m feeling like I’ve grown a bit more, and that I’ve got an even greater appreciation for the story than I did when I came in.  Each person in this class has contributed a little bit more to who I am – as a faciliator, and as a person.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

16 Comments

  1. Reply
    Marilyn December 5, 2010

    This is a beautiful post Jennifer. I feel as though I have so many stories in me but don’t know how to unlock them, how to let them flow…. if only I had the courage (severely lacking) and the right person to help me in this process; your class are fortunate to have you.

  2. Reply
    Hay December 5, 2010

    You know, I have no idea what Creative Non Fiction is…Marilyn is right, your students are lucky to have you.

  3. Reply
    Jennifer December 5, 2010

    Thank you Marilyn, and I’d love to have you in one of my classes. If I may suggest – you having started a blog is a big step – you are, in one way, telling your story now. And in drumming up courage to write stories, whether personal or fiction, I’d suggest you draw upon the support and encouragement you get from your blog readership. Many people care very much about what you have to say.

  4. Reply
    Jennifer December 5, 2010

    Thank you Hay! (Creative non fiction is, simply, non fiction that draws upon the features of fiction, such as language [metaphor, symbolism, etc.], characterization, setting to make the stories more meaningful to the reader.)

  5. Reply
    Selma December 5, 2010

    You would be a fantastic teacher and I know your students would prosper under your gentle hand. It must be a great feeling to assist people with the creative process like that. It must put a spring in your step.

  6. Reply
    Jennifer December 5, 2010

    Selma, you’re a peach. And yes, it is great, and yes, it does put a spring in my step. They help me more than I help them.

  7. Reply
    lisahgolden December 5, 2010

    I love this. I think being immersed in the world of writers even once a week would be interesting

  8. Reply
    Jeff Griffiths December 5, 2010

    My last Creative Writing Class is this week. Well said Jennifer.

  9. Reply
    Jennifer December 5, 2010

    It keeps me more engaged than I would have imagined, Lisa.

  10. Reply
    Jennifer December 6, 2010

    Jeff, it was wonderful to see the positive reaction when you popped into my class last week. Enjoy the holidays.

  11. Reply
    Marilyn December 6, 2010

    Thanks for your reply and I was very interested to read your reply to Hay below; this is exactly what I feel I need to learn. It sounds wonderful.

  12. Reply
    Little hat December 6, 2010

    Hey jennifer, Do you run summer schools (or winter schools for that matter). Or do you know of any good ones? What a great excuse that would be to spend a few weeks in Canada.
    I too have only recently understood that my writing is creative non fiction. strange how finding a label and a niche is so important to feeling validated. On the other hand maybe the really great artists were prepared to stand well outside the existing labels – Picasso, Gaudi, Ginsberg, Disney.

  13. Reply
    Jennifer December 6, 2010

    Marilyn there are a number of really good books that guide one along the proccess of writing, and if there aren’t classes in your area, you could go that route. “Writing Life Stories” by Bill Roorbach is EXCELLENT, I used it and some of the exercises in it when developing a memoir class. Another book called “Writing from Life” by Susan Wittig Albert has a number of guided exercises as well. It’s older – but you may be able to find it online. I’m sure a search of a good bookstore or online source would find you any number of ones that may give you the impetus you’re looking for. :0)

  14. Reply
    Jennifer December 6, 2010

    Steve, I greatly appreciate anyone who will defy a label, because I’ve always avoided them myself.
    My classes are offered in summer (our summer, hehe) but I never know if they’ll run – the college cancels them if there is insufficient enrolment.
    There is the Haliburton School of Arts – which I would highly recommend, because it is nestled in one of Ontario’s most beautiful regions, Muskoka, and if you came all the way to Canada, you might as well go somewhere beautiful! They offer week-long courses all summer,across the spectrum of the arts, and including a number of writing courses. That’s where I’m doing the Expressive Arts cert.
    The link is below – they put the new catalogue out sometime in the new year – you may be able to ask for notification as to when it comes out. You can look at last year’s calendar (right side of page) to get a sense of what’s offered.
    If you did decide to take one or more courses there, LET ME KNOW and I’ll arrange to take one at the same time! My summer holidays always include at least one week at the Haliburton school!
    http://www.haliburtonschoolofthearts.ca/

  15. Reply
    Marilyn December 6, 2010

    Jennifer thank you so much for these, I shall most definitely google them and buy them if I can, Amazon is usually a treasure trove. Thank uou so much.

  16. Reply
    Jennifer December 6, 2010

    Yes, and Amazon has that feature where they suggest others of interest when you search a book – other similar ones will pop up. It’s designed to get you to buy more books – but it could turn up really good resources. Good luck! Have fun!

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