As I mentioned earlier in the week (in this post), I’m going to post longer, more well-thought-out (maybe!) answers to the questions that Britt Bravo posed to me during our Arts and Healing Network podcast conversation last week.
The first question on the list:
1. What are the Writing Ourselves Whole workshops?
Most basically, Writing Ourselves Whole offers transformative writing workshops, using the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method, in the service of transforming trauma and/or struggles around sexuality into art, and creating spaces in which individuals may come to recognize the artist/writer within. (whew!)
I offer erotic writing workshops open to folks of all orientations and all genders, writing workshops to women survivors of sexual trauma, and (periodically) general topic writing workshops as well.
The Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method creates an ethically-boundaried and safe space in which all participants can write as they are drawn to write, and everyone will be encouraged in their writing. Groups are either single-day intensives or eight 2.5-hour meetings; because the groups are closed (not drop-in), participants come to trust one another and thus often allow their work to grow and deepen in risk and playfulness.
Although these groups aren’t specifically therapy-focused, the process of writing itself can be a therapeutic and transformative process.
While we’re creating narrative and art out of what we think of as the boring (or worse) stuff of our lives, in a community of like-minded others who celebrate our art, our internal selves are rearranged, sometimes without our even realizing it.
Who can participate? These groups are for anyone who currently writes or who has ever wanted to write.
Even if you have not written in years, even if you “only” write in a journal, even if you worry about your spelling when you put words to the page.
It doesn’t matter if a teacher once told you that you were a poor writer because your sentences were too long, or that your tenses were incorrect. It doesn’t matter if someone once told you that only “great men” can write.
Those were lies. If you want to write, you can write. The truth is that I am blown away by the art created and shared during every single session of writing, regardless of participants’ writing history. You have great art in you. If the path that that art wishes to take is through writing, I hope to have the good fortune to work with you.
The Amherst Writers and Artists workshop model, as described in Pat Schneider’s book Writing Alone and With Others, arises out of the belief and understanding that everyone has the ability to write: if you can speak (in any fashion), you can create writing that is deep, important, and has artistic merit. I do not ask folks interested in participating in my writing groups for a writing sample, or if/where they’ve published, or what their experience with writing is — this is not a competition. Every participant will have a different relationship with writing, and every participant will produce incredible work.
As I say on the Writing Ourselves Whole website, we’re “creating communal change through individual transformation…”
My vision? Writing Ourselves Whole seeks to change the world through writing. To open our hearts to ourselves and each other, so that we might live in a community of deep expressiveness and self-love, where each individual reaches his and her most complete self. I envision a community aware of its full breadth and power, one that risks speaking truth to power because it has been heard and received by its peers: an empowered community, able to effect change.
The mission of Writing Ourselves Whole is to offer safe, confidential writing groups — that allow for transformation, risk, laughter, and artistic manifestation — to a broad cross-section of the community.
Some writing workshops focus particularly on those who’ve felt marginalized and silenced (survivors of sexual trauma and domestic violence, members of the LGBTQQI communities).
To express our own story changes the world. Writing is both memory and possibility at once, and in moving through and with that tension, we create change.
Yes, it’s true. Writing can take you to the things you never thought you’d do, shift you into someone you never believed yourself able to be.