I am starting this blog as an extension of my work as a guide to other creative writers. I call myself a “guide” rather than a teacher because I don’t believe writing can be taught – at least not the part that makes one a great writer.
Salman Rushdie recently said in an interview with Leonard Lopate on WNYC
that the craft of writing is the only thing that can be taught: how to make better sentences, paragraphs, structure and so forth; but that no one can teach a writer to have an eye or an ear, a unique voice, or an uncommon perspective on the world. So my work as the guide in a class I call the Writers Support Circle aims to create a safe space for discovering each writer’s uniqueness and to foster a community that encourages and guides each member to the best self-expression and creativity they can achieve.
My writers are talented and raw, uncertain and confident, emotional and restrained, young and old, published and unpublished. I have attempted to treat each of them as individuals with unique things to say without judgment of their experience or skill. Over time they have each improved tremendously, and many have produced works of great honesty and beauty. Meanwhile, the personal connection and commitment between them has grown beyond me to exist as a thing unto itself.
I learned this nurturing approach from Madeleine L’Engle, with whom I studied many years ago and enjoyed a long association until her death in 2007. In her workshops, she was never concerned with a particular writer’s ability, but with embracing the writer’s soul and breathing acceptance and love upon each one of us. Some of Madeleine’s students went on to publish. Others perhaps never wrote again. But it didn’t matter, because each of us had been taught to express our hearts. I have attempted to do the same for my own writers these last few years.
In this blog, I plan to post various readings that I share with my circle, offering encouragement, humor in the face of struggle, technical advice, an awareness of the vagaries of the publishing business, and any other comments that I hope will support and guide both aspiring and accomplished writers.
If you are already writing, I wish you discipline and hope. If you are thinking about it, I welcome you into our world.