In a community meeting room, participants in a reminiscence-writing workshop are gathered around a table. As we shift from discussing writing technique to sharing our stories, I witness again the power of writing in small groups. I see my participants gaining satisfying skill at a craft, discovering joy and perspective as they explore the meaning of their life experiences. I observe friendships forming, often at a stage in life when we lose more friends than we make.
A few weeks later, the same participants gather in a larger community room, surrounded by friends, family, and members of the community. An expectant hush falls as the evening of story-sharing gets under way. Tales of mystery, friendship, and love pour out. Every five to ten minutes applause rewards one reader as another takes the stage. In the back of the room, a camera operator quietly records the scene.
One night, a month or a year later—it doesn’t matter when—a channel-surfer comes across the recorded Story Night airing on cable-access television. “I should do that,” he thinks. “I have stories I could tell…”
From fifteen or so writers, to three dozen or so attendees, to a cable audience accruing thousands of views over time, the power of story is present. Linkages are created between generations and communities by the creative work these people undertake, week by week, word by word.
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The above is an excerpt from a grant proposal I wrote to fund Story Night activities in Fall 2009. The application to Dane County Cultural Affairs Commision was successful; in fact a reviewer said, “That’s the first time I cried while reading a grant application.”
In my writing workshops we explore different aspects of the writing craft. For each class meeting you will write a few pages on your life experiences. I suggest topics, but encourage you to write on whatever motivates you. Each class meeting includes time to share what you’ve written in a supportive environment. To enhance small-group interaction, enrollment is limited. Anyone age 14-114 is welcome to participate.
Upcoming workshops are posted on the my website here.
Want to know what participants have to say about the workshops?
The video was created to accompany a fundraising project on DaneArts’ Power2Give website. That project has now concluded.