Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Courage for the Inner Journey

Here's the scenery outside the classroom window where I'm leading a group this week on Writing from Your Roots. (My seat faces the wall of windows, I'm happy to say.)

The group is a couple of dozen teachers from all over North Carolina, meeting at the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching in Cullowhee.

Seminars here are designed to refresh and re-inspire the teachers. This particular topic is also one that requires of them a fair amount of courage, because writing from the deepest part of oneself takes some digging. And there's often material that's painful, sometimes material that's a surprise.

Tough prose has been read around our table this week: about dealing with a parent's suicide, an early widowhood, and being a refugee from the war in Bosnia, about facing one's buried angers and fears, as well as more joyful experience.

People have leaped over their in-the-moment fears and hesitation and written strong stories. It has been exciting and gratifying to watch and hear.

I applaud these writers and will keep their courage in mind as an example when I'm back at my own manuscript. Because writing fiction also requires some well-digging, before the fountain rises shining in the air.

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