Womyn’s writing workshop

by Kat

Write“We live in this space between thought and word as we try, struggle it seems, to bridge this chasm. So after this happened I felt __________ and now I feel __________. I don’t know. No one’s ever asked, so I find myself grasping for words. This meaning-making is an incendiary beast — not easily tamed. It defies words or even bits of description. It looked like… it felt like… oh, I don’t know, but I wish I did — it would be oh so much easier.” – Selection from my poetry notebook written during the womyn’s writing workshop I attended recently

J, the facilitator at the womyn’s writing workshop, gave a list of freewrite prompts on a handout reminding us that there were “no rules, just write.” So I sat at a long table, surrounded by a few women I knew from the local circle and some others I’d never met before that afternoon, and scribbled furiously in green ink. I’ve attended workshops that J has held before, and she’s good about letting people finish their current thought before the group sharing time begins. We went around the table, introducing ourselves and mentioning the kind of writing we did (be it poetry, prose, blogs, short stories, or anything else we wished). Then we shared our respective work, some from the day’s freewrite, others recently published, and even read from cell phone displays.

I’ve attended womyn’s writing circles for a while now, but I’m still amazed at how moving it can be to hear a woman share her felt experiences and then watch the group respond. On such occasions, we murmur along in agreement (mm-hmm), snap (an exclamation of that’s true for me, too), and of course, clap towards the end of the piece. At the workshop, I read the poem I quoted from in the beginning of this entry and felt a sense of connection with these women as I tried to describe what it was like to feel completely muddled, yet try to verbalize that experience.

J helped to create a non-judgmental space in which first-time writers could feel comfortable reading their pieces in front of the group. As a fellow participant, I was encouraged by the comments other women in the group made about my poem.

I remember one of the women mentioned that we were “eight people who choose to write with people they didn’t know.” “Sounds crazy,” someone else in the group quipped; and yet I felt the process working. During that hour and a half, I felt heard, and better yet, understood as I reflected on our shared experiences. J reflected on women poets’ experiences with writing about their lives and remarked, “We say out loud what is going on.” That statement resonated with me.

“This sense-making is an illusory space — not easily finished it seems as the structure is — unfinished. Not linear, but part of this curvy process of putting pieces together and mixing them up and leaving them alone — unfinished.”