Beginning of the Easter holidays. In just under a week, family will be arriving to visit: my in-laws, both my brothers, nieces and nephew. We will be a group of eleven. My brothers and nieces and nephew have not visited us here in the UK. I wonder what Cambridge will look like through their eyes. We’ve been here long enough that I’m no longer sure what it is that I don’t notice anymore.
End of the Winter term. I’ve led three rounds of Writing Circles since starting them last September. I’m learning more each time. The view of how to shape this programme and spend my energies is becoming more clear. People have come to the circles from many walks of life: art, journalism, finance, healthcare, bodywork, social work, sciences. Perhaps what everyone shares is a desire to be heard and a willingness to listen. They bring perspectives that come from a richness of experience. In one sense, they are finding their voices as writers, yes, but in another, they have already found their voices as people. I think this is what I love most about the writing groups: I don’t know what each participant will bring to the table, but I do know that each will offer something unique. To me, the most exciting moments in teaching lie in the intersection of careful planning and openness for the unexpected.
What happens next? For April and May, I’m going to take a step back and get a different view on my Writing Circles. I’m starting to see how I might create circles for people at various points in their writing. A circle for those who are looking for places to start differs from one that supports writers on continuing projects. Once again, I’m happy to inhabit the realm of possibility. Ready to dream for a bit and see where it takes me. The next circles may be in June or September.
What else happens next? For April and May, I’m also going to take a step forward, and get a different view on my own writing. I’m wanting to try out more fiction, change my narrative stance (i.e. stop the first person), experiment and find more edges. I’m wanting to get a bit closer to the page and further from the product. Whilst planning and leading Writing Circles, my writing focuses on the content of the programme. My writing has a constant awareness of its purpose and audience. I think I want a bit of distance from that end of the process. I’m wondering if stepping back from facilitating and stepping forward towards the empty page will offer new landscapes, new vistas.
Perhaps those fresh perspectives will be as eye-opening to me as this ancient city will seem to our visitors next week. I’ll let you know.