Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Writing Workshop

By: Marjorie Hart

"Belong to a writing workshop," the pamphlet read. "Write your story." When Cuyamaca College advertised this program of Creative Writing in 1999 it caught my attention. Writing workshops are nothing new, but for me it was a surprise--if you can still be surprised at age seventy-five. As soon as I found Cuyamaca College on the map, I signed up with a little trepidation. Going back to school at my age? Hadn't I had enough of classrooms? For thirty years I taught Music History and related courses at the University of San Diego and typed the nights away writing academic papers. My husband couldn't believe I was signing up, but I knew creative writing was a far different craft and foreign to me. .

On a Tuesday morning in September, I carried my briefcase with sharpened pencils and a yellow legal pad ready to take notes. How nice, I thought, to hear someone else lecture and make the preparations; it would be fun to be a student again. However, instead of a lecture, we were given an assignment. "Bring your writing with copies for the class next week." We would read and critique each other's writings. What kind of a class was this? Not even books to buy? Looking around, I found the room filled with Seniors--old Seniors. Good Heavens!

I was ready the next Tuesday, but embarrassed to pass out my copies.The high quality of writing from the class was stunning. Before my turn, a former high school principal read a hilarious story of when he was in first grade, capturing the dialogue like a pro, then a woman, the editor of the Audubon newsletter, read an exquisite piece about a bird sanctuary. When a tall, lean man read a touching poem about his wife who had Alzheimer's, his kind blue eyes misted. Mine did also. Later, I learned he attracted a wide audience in poetry circles. There would be no critique from me that day, only high praise.  

That afternoon was unforgettable.  What better way to learn how to write? How could I attain the high bar they had raised? At the end of the semester the instructor collected submissions for a book called Gray Matters. "You're published!!" she cried and we laughed. Those "old" seniors became my teacher, my unrelenting support and more important, my endearing friends.


adventures said...

Marjorie, you are such an inspiration. I can't imagine the idea that our paths would never have crossed had you not taken up writing thru that workshop.

Post a Comment