One thing I’ve been doing for the last two and a half years is teaching creative writing – specifically creative nonfiction. I got started at UAB’s ArtPlay, where I will be teaching again in October. And when they first asked me to teach there, I wasn’t sure what I could offer other writers or if I could even teach period. I was so nervous!
Turns out that I have quite a bit to offer, I can engage a roomful of people, and I LOVE it. But more important than how the classes affect me is how they affect the people who have taken them. They tell me how much they enjoy flexing their creative muscles and that they learn a lot. They form friendships with the other people in their group. And y’all…these folks have turned out some writing that is so dang good it will knock your very socks off.
So when I was planning to quit my job (and believe you me, there was a lot of planning involved), one thing that occurred to me was that many of my former students had asked for ongoing workshops. They wanted prompts and inspiration. They wanted accountability and deadlines. And, most of all, they wanted to be a part of a group of writers. They wanted to find their people.
One thing that I learned from See Jane Write founder Javacia Harris Bowser, who started as a mentor and is now my dear friend, is that if you can’t find your tribe, you need to create one. That’s how See Jane Write started – as a group of writers meeting for brunch. Now it’s an international membership group for women who write and blog.
With all this in mind – requests from former students and inspiration from Javacia – I said to myself, Self…why can’t you lead writing workshops on your own? And so I set out to do just that.
What follows is an example of “speaking things into existence.” Once I made up my mind and voiced my intention to the universe, the pieces started falling into place as I answered a few key questions.
Would anybody be interested?
I reached out to my former students to gauge interest with a short Google poll. And they response was overwhelming!
Where would I hold the classes?
In a chance meeting with my friend and neighbor Peggi Davis, a former student of mine and author of Funny Face – her memoir which is a must read, I told her my plans. On the spot, she offered me her studio to use as a meeting space.
Check. (Thank you, Peggi!)
What would I teach that would be different from the classes I’d already taught.
I was really sweating this one. And I had a few ideas that I thought were just sort of nanner-nanner. Then, the morning of the first workshop, while I was in the shower (I get all my best ideas in the shower), it came to me. And I spent the rest of the day fleshing out a new and unique workshop model.
Before I knew it, I was off to the races.
Every week I hear stories that are so beautifully and creatively written I can hardly believe it. And these people! They show up every week and pour out their very souls. They are smart, funny, honest, strong, and vulnerable. Our hearts break and we wipe away the tears. We laugh until our faces and sides hurt and we wipe away the tears.
And this past week, at the end of the first six weeks of workshops we had a little party to celebrate our our achievements. And at the end of the evening, as if it wasn’t clear before, I really really knew I’d found my people.
That’s why, whatever your “thing” is, I highly recommend connecting with other people that love it too. Community sparks creativity. Community is accountability. And community sparks friendship. Looks like we’ve found just what we were looking for all along.
And a few more quick things:
- I changed my Instagram handle to @audreyoutloud to better reflect me and all the things I’m doing now. Come give me a follow if you want to keep up with my freelance writing, my daily walks (#audreywalks365 – I’ve walked every single day since Jan. 1, 2021), my art, and mine and Tragedy’s cocktail and music pairings. There’s a lot of there there. Come along for the ride.
- Are you the person who always steps up at work but is never compensated or even recognized for “going the extra mile”? This article is for you.
- A good bit of my heritage is Swedish, although I didn’t grow up with any sort of Swedish culture or tradition. Often, though, I come across things about Swedish tendencies that describe me to a “T” even though I didn’t know about them before – things like this article about the Swedish principle of lagom (lah-gomm). That’s always been my philosophy and that’s when I’m happiest. Lagom, y’all.