"Writing, Creativity, and Soul" speakers Josephine Humpreys (left) and Debra Moffitt
Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann once said, “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
I’m not entirely sure what he means by that, but I have an idea he is suggesting more than simply stating the obvious—that writing is hard. The meat of Mann’s quote, I believe, is the “for other people” part. The comparison.
Writing is indeed a solitary endeavor, but it’s also a curiously communal effort. Not only are writers trying to make connection with their readers, most writers I know are insanely curious about how other writers work. We’re looking over others’ shoulders, making comparisons, which ain’t healthy but it is a job hazard, at least in my experience. We need the support, insight, how-to tips, criticism and encouragement from other writers. It’s like bumming a cigarette from a friend, back when people smoked cigarettes.
And it’s why workshops like the Sophia Institutes’ Writing, Creativity and Soul gathering this weekend are so necessary—kind of like going to a revival. It’s the power of numbers, a communal celebration and recognition that writing is difficult but rewarding—even soul-nourishing—creative work, and affirmation that if others can do it, then dang it, I can too.
“The program looks like one that will be helpful to writers of all kinds, including those of us who're speaking,” says keynoter Josephine Humphreys, a Penn Faulkner award winning novelist and author of Nowhere Else on Earth. “I always learn something from the give and take, and I'm reminded that we're all in this together.”
Joining Humphreys for the Friday night session will be novelist Mary Alice Monroe and nonfiction writer Debra Moffitt, author of the award-winning Awake in the World. Saturday’s program includes genre-specific breakout sessions led by poets Susan Meyers and Susan Finch Stevens, Moffitt on writing memoir, me on writing personal essay and blogs, and Nina Bruhns on self-publishing.
“For me writing is a spiritual practice and a way to share, connect, and be of service. In the workshop, I'd like for people to become aware of their own motives for writing as well. We'll explore expression and giving voice to the deeper self that yearns to express and create,” says Moffitt.
In that spirit of sharing, I invite and encourage all of you for whom writing is difficult to register and come join the club.