|LEARNERS IN ACTION||October 2000|
The next workshop was held in an older house, remodeled for the Victoria Read Society. We gave our workshop here for men and women who had just learned to read and write.
One of the men in this workshop wrote a great story from a picture we gave out to inspire him. He got the picture of a man rock climbing, who was precariously hanging from a cliff. As he wrote he put himself in that man's place. The rock climbing was like his struggle to learn to read and write. He said, "I am that man!"
Our next excursion was a writing retreat at Camp He-Ho-Ha (Health Hope Happiness) on the shores of Lake Isle, Alberta just west of Edmonton. We were invited by Mary Norton the coordinator of the Learning Center in Edmonton to do a workshop for them.
At this retreat they had an entertainer from Ontario, named Moon Joyce. She was a wonderful woman, who inspired all of us to sing and do action songs together. We did a huge wall mural that had pictures that inspired us to write the lines to the song. The fun part was that we all did this as a group, helping each other to come up with five verses to the song.
We did one Fearless writing workshop. Some of the students had their tutors along with them at the camp, so everyone could benefit from the workshop. Mary Norton commented that she had not seen her students write as much before. Writing together with friends makes writing not such a scary thing to do. It's been about four years that the Learning Centre and our project have been getting together. We keep in touch by email and an occasional hour-long trip to each other's projects.
Our next trip was to Kelowna, British Columbia. This was Barb's first chance to travel with us. Deborah, Sharron, Barb and I were very excited about this trip. We would be doing a joint two-day workshop with the Kelowna Life Writer's program. It is also a group for women who had gone through difficulties in their lives, and were interested in finding themselves through writing.
At Okanagon University we had a chance to meet them and their instructors, in person. We did an afternoon of writing and practicing for the next day's event, which would be a new experience for both groups. At the end of the afternoon we went into the University Theater, where adult learners from all over the Okanagon Valley would be coming to the event. It was easy to practice on stage with a microphone, with the universities theater seats empty. The next day would be another experience but we were all confident we could do it. Despite this, each and every one of us were experiencing some nervousness.
After everything we had gone over during the day, because of being so overwhelmed and nervous, I had a full-blown anxiety attack. It lasted for several hours, and I had to cry a river. I spent time in my room alone for awhile, and wrote in my journal. I was writing and feeling so much better because of focusing and writing my feelings down. Then Deborah came into my room, sat on my bed and started playing a Ukulele.
Literacy programs are so blessed to have such caring program coordinators, who also become our dear friends. I immediately got my confidence back and I was ready for the next day's event, along with the others.
Wonderful things happen at our Fearless writing workshops. Lots of laughter and some tears too at times. But mostly people have an eye-opening experience that writing can become fun, and not something to be afraid of. Getting the words down on paper with easy writing exercises lets one's imagination go to places you don't expect. Spelling and grammar is important, but first it's important to get those words down on paper without worrying so much about the proper sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The people who have taken our workshop let the words flow onto the paper and come up with some amazing writing.