You can expect this writing workshop to be a collegial gathering, designed to support a generative process. New writing resembles the wings of a butterfly at the moment it has emerged from the chrysalis, still too delicate for flight. In this early stage the writing is not ready for critical analysis. The purpose here is to help writers bring forth fresh material that may in time develop into fully realized, polished work.
To that end the workshops run according to a set of guidelines that provide a friendly container for the participants to offer their writing with the confidence that it will be received in a nurturing atmosphere.
These guidelines derive from the work of Pat Schneider author of Writing Alone and With Others
(Oxford University Press, 2003) and founder of Amherst Writers and Artists, a collective of writers and teachers based in Amherst, Massachusetts. Pat Schneider’s teaching philosophy has its foundation in five essential affirmations:
- Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
- Everyone is born with creative genius.
- Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or education level.
- The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
- A writer is someone who writes.
The Bayou Writing Workshop takes much of its shape from the AWA method and runs according to the following guidelines:
- Honor the writer in these ways: First listen carefully. Then in discussion, keep your comments focused on the writing. Please do not digress into your own anecdotes.
- Treat everything as fiction. Never assume something about a writer’s own life based on what he or she has written. Maintain absolute confidentiality around the work.
- When responding to a piece of writing, refer to the “narrator” or the “speaker” as the main point of view character, not to the author, as the voice of the piece.
- Remember this is not a therapy group.
- You are free to respond to the writing prompts in any way you like, and you may accept or reject the exercises that are offered.
- Please respond to the readings by saying what you like, what stays with you, what moves you—not with suggestions for how to make it stronger. Do not offer critical analysis unless the writer invites that and has distributed the work in manuscript form.