a letter I was asked to write, it should help convince people that there is a need for creative writing spaces in our community
Before I attended the creative writing class of Ana Menendez I was already writing a lot. But it was a secret, a personal pleasure that I was too uncertain about to share it with others. Also my writing might have been authentic, but I lacked technique and understanding of the craft of writing, especially in a language that is not my mother tongue.
Attending the regular meetings that the course offered, I grew more and more conscious of my own writing, my style, my voice, my tone. I learned a lot about building stories, creating characters and crafting interesting plotlines. But the hardest and perhaps scariest moment was yet to come. Letting other people read my work was a terrifying thought, it meant opening up to others who might scrutinize my personal writings. I was not alone with my fear, my fellow students felt similar about stripping their souls. But, as it happens with most things we are scared of, once we make the leap we feel relieved. Reading the stories of my peers was eye opening. So many people with so much talent, I could not believe how good some of us were. Just by reading their stories I had the feeling of getting to know them on a different level, of connecting with them intellectually and creatively, a feeling seldom reached when alone. And suddenly, the thought that the others read my story did not seem so scary anymore. Indeed it was the most helpful meeting when my group shared their thoughts on my story. Not only was I happy that they took the time to critically read the words I wrote, but I was also relieved to find out that what I wrote was not that bad, even good at times. Some of them really got what I was aiming for and encouraged me to become a better writer. This type of group dynamic was very supportive and strengthened my belief in myself and so it was for others. At the end of the course we organized a public reading of some of our work, an opportunity I am very thankful for. For the first time in my life I read out a poem that I had written and that complete strangers appreciated and talked to me about after the reading. For the first time, I was proud of what I had created.
I would like to encourage such workshops and conferences in any case and would love to participate in them. I would like to meet more talented people with secret stories that, just like me, did not have the courage to share them otherwise. Giving people a space where they can express themselves creatively through writing is the first step to fostering a network of local writers and giving them a voice that would otherwise not be heard. Who knows, maybe the next Harry Mulisch is already among us.