Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reading and Writing at John C. Campbell Folk School

Brenda Kay Leford and I read before an enthusiastic audience of people from several different states at JCCFS on Thursday night.  I saw Vicki Hunt, an excellent instructor,  who was teaching that week.  I was one of her students a few years ago. All the teachers in the writing program at JCCFS are good. Over the past fifteen years, I've taken many, many classes there with memorable writers and poets such as Kathryn Stripling Byer, past Poet Laurette of North Carolina.

View from behind writing studio at Orchard House

Carol Crawford , one of my writing mentors, teaches there and I have studied with her several times. I will always remember a class on writing essay with Dr. Steve Harvey. And I'll never forget an unusual , but informative week with R.T. Smith.

One writing teacher I still haven't met, but I want to take her class, is Dana Wildsmith. It has not worked out yet, but one day I hope it will. She is a writer I admire.
Some people say to me, "You teach writing,  why would you want to take writing classes? "
Well, I don't think any of us knows it all. Every class I take I learn something, especially when I study with instructors for the first time. Writers like to gather and talk about writing. They share and they learn from each other. That is also true in writing classes.

To become a good writer, I believe we should take every opportunity to glean what we can from those who have been successful and have experience we don't yet have. Even the most well-published writers and poets suffer doubt when they finish a poem, a story, an essay, or a book.  They worry, is it good enough; is it as good as the last one; will this work reach the editor, publisher or reader who will connect and fall in love with this particular piece. As writers we put everything on the line when we submit our work. We are all human in that we want others to approve of our efforts.

I hear that writers are narcissistic, writers are selfish, writers are self-centered, writers are arrogant, and so on.
At times, I have to agree. At one time I thought I didn't know any writers who were mean spirited or jealous and competitive toward other writers, but I was naive. Writers are people and we all come in different sizes and shapes. I have been fortunate that most of my friends who are writers are generous toward other writers and are willing to give them opportunities, to give them advice and share insight into the literary world.
We can all aspire to become that kind of writer.

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