I decided to take a writing class recently. There is an incredible writing school a couple of blocks away from my condo called Story Studio. I stumbled across it a few years ago during an open house they hosted and have kept an eye on their class offerings since. I’ve taken a couple of one-off workshops and attended a free legal seminar, but when I got their spring newsletter, touting a “Mapping Your Memoir” course in four sessions, I decided to pony up.
Though I’m committed to completing my memoir about my journey with Ken through his cancer, what I was more interested in was connecting with other writers; people like me who had a story bursting out of them. And what I got was a host of genuine and interesting people as eager to hear about my story as they were to tell about their own. We all went through the exercises of laying out the structure for our story, and the gamut of emotions from “Am I doing this right?” to “Am I focusing on the right aspects?” to “Is this even remotely interesting to anyone but me?” It was comforting that our fears were as universal as our commitment.
I really looked forward to hearing other people’s stories. The class wasn’t about content, but just they structuring part, so we didn’t get into great detail…until the last class where we each had 5 minutes to present our book structure and get feedback from a couple of minutes from the other students and the instructor Nadine Kenney Johnstone, who was fantastic. She has an infectious gift for creating excitement about our writing. For me, it was like getting a full tank refill of creative enthusiasm every Monday from 6:30 pm to 9 pm.
It was a great exercise in talking through our books and what we’d envisioned and how we planned to structure them. I can’t speak for everyone, but as mine came together and revealed itself to me, it turned out to be a little different from I’d planned. How? You’ll have to wait until you buy it Amazon.
However, before the last class I was a little bit terrified to present my book and for a split second considered just skipping class. But I couldn’t. Not just for my book. I was so curious to hear everyone else’s! People had asked questions during the four classes specific to their book, so I knew only the slightest sliver of an idea of what anyone else’s books was about. What I found so fascinating about the class were the other students, their stories and–like me–their compulsion to want to share it. To hear their diverse stories was astounding and so very interesting. I was bathed in with a sense of inclusion and sameness in every class.
Though our class has ended, many of us have agreed to continue on as a writing group to support, critique and encourage each other to complete our books. Our first meeting to lay down the ground rules was a great success. It was fun to hang out in an informal setting and just talk person to person, writer to writer.
I’m as excited to share my journey with them as I am to learn theirs.
Also published on Medium.