Day 4: Making Meaning

It dawned on me today during tutorials: This is a big deal! There are people in my class who have traveled from Texas, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, Indiana, and locally from Michigan to participate in my weeklong residential memoir writing class. Everyone in the class is somewhere around 12-40 years older than me but still, I can feel how their trust in me as a teacher has grown. It takes intentional decisions to build that trust and based on student feedback in tutorials, things are coming together just as they should.
Today I could really feel their gears turning as we head toward the final day of class: What is voice? How do you bring a character to life in your memoir? When, if ever, is a composite memory excusable? How can I turn my internal editor off? What subgenre should I be writing in? Should I write my book? What do you do if you can’t envision who your audience is? Where’s the best place to send my work? How do I fix my “to be” verbs?
At the beginning of the week I asked the class to focus their energy on two tasks: reading like a writer and writing like a writer. Today, I told them they were all thinking like writers, too. Their progress is palpable, their effort and genuine interest in learning and improving is admirable, and as a class they’re gelling in very lovely, organic ways. Initially, I hesitated to enroll as many as 16 students. Now, I’m feeling that the diversity of life experiences, perspectives, and personalities has lead to a truly vibrant creative atmosphere.
Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a long tradition through Interlochen College. Teach enthusiastic, insightful adults from across the country for one week each summer? Stay in a sweet lakeside cabin while doing so? Yes, please!

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