I had about 12 or 13 kids I think, a fairly balanced number of young men to women although a little heavier on the male side. As I mentioned before, all very diverse in exterior and interior. Having this broad of diversity within a creative environment is great because the work that comes out is unique and exciting. The best and most fortunate thing for me as a facilitator is that they all like to write and consider themselves to be writers.
I was informed later that none of them know each other, another advantage of course, because the anonymity can help with opening up. Also there is a break down and separation of clicks, which are also damaging to the creative process of self expression, although there are two girls in the group that are friends and they… I’ll call them, I and K … well they make it challenging sometimes.
The first day is a lot of talking, and as a group we do guidelines that we want in the workshop. I talk about publication and it’s too “boring” for them. It was during this time that I thought, holy shit, these guys get bored, and then you lose them, and then becomes social hour.
I rushed through all the speeches that really don’t matter till, let’s be honest with ourselves here, our thirties. Then, I moved on to the good stuff. We did some prompts and then wrote on them for 5 mins and then shared. That was my first opportunity to hear that I had some great writers. A few, as in every part of life stood out, as having a stronger voice through writing. One in particular, I’ll call him E, is an incredible writer. His stuff is a harsh honest and realistic, yet poignant view of a hard life that involves violence, but not written gratuitously or with glory, but with the true pain of suffering and learning from that suffering. He created a scene of a boy shot and wounded and feeling the life draining from his body. It was chilling and sad. Everybody read their stuff but one, R. but I hope to hear her stuff in the future.
We did an exercise called 3 truths and 1 lie. Once you tell your lie and truth, as a group we try to determine the lie. It’s just an ice breaker to warm up on the first day.
We did a free write for five minutes: you had to write about your lie as if it was true.
Some word prompts used to help the mind going were
Sitting at my parents table-
Before I was born-
On the side of the road-
in the doorway-
If I could change one thing-
Most kids picked, if I could change one thing, which didn’t surprise me.