I wish you all could have been at John C. Campbell Folk School this afternoon at 4:45 p.m. to hear my students read some of the pieces they wrote this week.
Judy began the reading with stories of the Border War between her grandfather and his neighbor. Judy researched her grandfather, talked with her siblings and others who told her about this character, but she fleshed out this man and told his story in class. The audience loved it.
Pat is an Episcopal Priest. She is also a writer. She writes sermons and has great command of the language, but this was her first attempt to write outside her spiritual work. She said this class has been fun and she now feels confident enough to submit work for publication. The listeners this afternoon at the Keith House loved her reading. I'll never forget "The Conductor."
I’ve read much of Nadine’s memoir since she has been in my classes in the past. She is writing the story of her life and when it is finished, it will make an excellent book. Today she read an excerpt called Aunt Betty’s store. The story stands alone with a beginning that grabs the reader, a great setting, delightful characters and humor. The story entertains and enlightens the reader. Nadine was a hit with the audience she faced today, and her marvelous sense of humor endeared her to all of us.
The biggest surprise this week, for me, was Vicki, another former student who is often quiet and fairly serious in the subjects she chooses. She was the last to read this afternoon. Vicki began with a short but powerful story about death, an elderly woman and an old dog. As I watched the small group sitting before her, listening to every word, I saw tears begin to roll down cheeks, tissues pulled from pockets and faces contorted in efforts to hold back the water works.
The second piece Vicki read was as humorous as the first was sad. Within a few minutes the writer, who had reduced her audience to tears, turned them completely around, and they laughed throughout the hilarious true story about Vicki dying her grandmother’s hair. Much of the joy of this story was in the performance, the dramatic voice and gestures of the writer. I hope Vicki will do some open mic reading in our area this summer.
As you can see, this has been another class at JCCFS in which students and teacher fell in love with writing about our unique lives and sharing funny, sad and nostalgic memories. I hope my students from this class continue to write, to attend writing workshops and seminars with good instructors. That will enrich what they have learned this week. And I hope to see them in my classes again one day.
Tomorrow is our last day, and we sadly say goodbye to the folk school experience, to each other and to having a full week to engage in our passion for writing.