Creative Wordshops September 2018 Writing Letter

Creative Wordshops Sept 2018

Dear people

Preaching teaching eaching That’s what he disliked about certain artists and writers. They interfered and pointed to everything as if you couldn’t see it or read for yourself. (Frank McCourt, Teacher Man)

The Writer’s Voice was published 21 years ago. Two generous friends, Werner Schmidt and Sue Gow, are helping create an e- and audio book. I am re reading the text to simplify and update it. While it is about finding your voice as a writer, that individual thumb print, I’m interested in the reader’s voice since meaning emerges in the spaces in-between. How much space do I take up as a writer?

Imagine a shared room. The writer arrives first and arranges hisher furniture. Then the reader arrives. Is there sufficient space for himher to place their furniture? If not then the writer needs to remove items. Writing lives in the conversation around shared space so the reader can validate or challenge their interpretation and experience and find meaning. For another reader there will be a different resonance. Once in a wordshop someone arrived late and took her seat. I asked the person next her to share what we had been doing. A third participant exclaimed ‘what wordshop were you in?’

Preaching means that I am invading someone else’s space, oversaying,
over-writing, not trusting the silences, often talking down to
the reader. When I left the university and dropped the professorship
and crimson gown into the academic bin – at the time of the birth
of the book – I took a vow not to ask questions that I thought I knew
the answer to. A guessing game in which the student needed is to
guess what was in my head.

I mentor clients whom I find fall sometimes fall into preaching in
their urgency and enthusiasm about their subject. (William Blake:
Enthusiasm is the first principle of knowledge and the last.)

When I do this (behave like the big tent charismatic preacher one size fits
all) I’m not trusting the reader and trying to control their experience. This is much like
the preachers and priests of my youth who shared a parable and then reduced it to a
single meaning – theirs. ‘ What does the story mean? ‘was a trick question as they had
already determined the borders of its meaning.

There are teachers and there are teachers. For some your grade depended on how
much you accepted and parroted their interpretation. I experienced teachers like this
too. 12 years of them. Then I read history at university and encounted Professor Winnie
Maxwell who mantra was ‘This is what I believe. There are no prizes for agreeing with

Sept 2018 letter