(by guest blogger, Ellen Meeropol*)
I did an MFA program to learn craft. Retired from my nurse practitioner career, I promised myself to my writing full time and had no plans to teach. But things happen and I started leading writing workshops. And - it turns out - I love it, especially with beginning writers who are more interested in exploration and illumination than publication.
I love creating exercises that stimulate writers to transform their memories and yearnings into stories. I love pointing out their intuitive use of craft techniques - of sensory detail and narrative voice, of metaphor and subtext, of building tension and conflict - and guiding them to more effective writing. I love the generosity which new writers often display towards each others’ work, their appreciation of each others’ work and talent.
I love leading writing workshops at the RFC gatherings for all these reasons and more. Attendees at the Carry It Forward gatherings have usually had some difficult encounters with the world. Some have watched police raid their bedrooms or visited their parents in prison. Some have been bullied in school or threatened in their neighborhoods. They have experiences to share that we need to hear. They have unique perspectives to offer.
Writing workshops offer an opportunity to find voice for our experiences. Often we must write around and around a topic to discover the story. We write many words, sometimes pages of spiraling words and sentences until the right words emerge to express a kernel of truth in a distinct and authentic way. When I lead workshops at the RFC gatherings, I feel privileged to be part of that discovery, to help those words and feelings find their voice.
Writing workshops with the RFC community combine the two things about which I feel the most passionate: changing the world and writing fiction. It doesn’t get better than that.
*Ellen Meeropol is a founding member of the RFC Board and is married to Robert Meeropol. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine and has taught numerous writing workshops at RFC gatherings. Her stories have appeared in Shaking Lit, The Drum, Bridges, Portland Magazine, Pedestal, Patchwork Journal, and The Women’s Times. Her first novel, House Arrest, was published in early 2011 (learn more at http://www.ellenmeeropol.com).
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