Dana Wildsmith, excellent writer, poet and teacher
about her week at the John C. Campbell Folk School,
and for a few minutes I
long for those times when I taught there, when I ate at the family-style dining
tables and talked with strangers I would likely never see after the week ended.
The folk school is a magical place, and if there are ghosts, I know they live
in those buildings and walk those grounds so lovely in the evening and early morning
At the end of this post by Dana
she tells us what her students say about taking her class and writing
personal essays. Like me, Dana teaches students to write about themselves, tell
their stories and put words to paper on subjects they would never have thought
to write about had they not registered for her writing class.
Tonight my group at Tri-County Community College was thin as
one student had to drop out and another was absent. But the writing by those
present was thick and heavy with family stories and happenings from their
“I would never have thought of this if it hadn’t been for
you,” Roger said as he explained how he came to write the story, The Smell from Hell. He was a
stock boy in a store, just a teenager, and worked for $1.00 an hour in south
Florida. In a short page of writing he entertained us, made us laugh, informed
us of what life was like back then, and enlightened his readers with knowledge
and history of gender specific jobs and how in today’s world a stock boy has a
new politically correct title – inventory engineer- or some such thing. Roger
has written serious, thought-provoking articles as well as hilarious stories of
his youth. He submits opinion pieces regularly to the Graham Star, his local
newspaper, and he is a political news junkie.
Diane also wrote a humorous piece for tonight. She chose the
prompt, Write about stories that are told
and re-told in your family
. She took us on a trip across country in an old
VW Bus loaded with a bunch of kids and her Aunt Elaine who confronted a bear in
the campground one morning. The trip changed Aunt Elaine’s life forever. Diane
has writing experience, but in this class she has learned to take her skills
further and deeper as she explores the use of the five senses and includes details
as well as dialogue in her creative nonfiction. In another story she wrote, we
all fell in love with her Irish Grandmother.
Kathy brought one of her children’s stories – What if? Kathy is a dedicated writer who will one day
be well-published. I can see this manuscript illustrated by a good artist and
in the hands of children who will love it. Kathy has also brought us to tears when
writing about her pet squirrel.
Like my mother and my sister, June, I delight in hearing the
unique stories about the lives of others. I think June enjoyed her life at Assisted Living because she met so many people and heard their personal stories. I liked for her to tell me about them and often I had the chance to meet them as well.
I thrive on seeing my students’ work
improve each week. I will miss these creative writers over the winter. My next
class at the college is scheduled for Fall, 2017. But I hope to teach at
my home studio next summer.