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How Writing Transforms

Before heading to a mini-conference at Gemini Ink on "How Writing Transforms Community," I changed my clothes three times. I'm always semi-tempted to wear dresses, then don't. They're not me (on most days), and although I was nervous about heading into this event and presenting on behalf of Gemini Ink's Writers-in-Communities Program, a program I believe in deeply and am proud to direct but am just getting to know. I had to go in as me.

And perhaps this is the reason I was so nervous. To quench my nervousness, I watched my absolute favorite TedTalk, The Art of Being Yourself, and sat for a few moments in silence before heading out. Because sometimes we just need to remember to say fuck it and be ourselves. Especially when we care about what we're doing.



Presenting alongside such strong community voices as Aaronetta Hamilton Pierce and Jennifer Bartlett, as well as an inspiring panel by Our Lady of the Lake's Writing With an Emphasis on Social Justice program, I quickly realized we all had the same stance - writing can be empowering, and we need to use it as a tool for communal growth and change. Funny how nerves step aside when you believe in what you're doing. 

I took this job because I believe that writing—or any developed creative output for that matter—once a part of our lives, becomes a companion, and this companion transforms our view of self and our ability to communicate. Writing, delivered by a passionate and driven teacher, can lay the foundation of transformation not only on an individual level, but on a community level, because the pain that many hold it, once released, loses power. Meanwhile voice, one shared with others, gains power. 

While listening to others present and even when introducing my own panel and hearing/sharing stories of teaching in communities, I was reminded to reevaluate my own work for value and voice. Where am I holding back? Where am I taking the easy route? Where am I ignoring issues?

I'll add pics from the event to this blog as they come in. In the meantime, in lieu of a writing prompt, I'd like you to think about what writing really means to you and how you can use it as a tool for change or awareness. Something as simple as inserting a scene that confronts a current societal issue or something as complex as telling your own truth in a memoir, will get you there. As an exercise, try to write about something that's bothering you but you'd like to change - do it in narrative form. Taking stock can help us get back to the root of why we do what we do. It can also only work to strengthen our voices as artists.

xo Jen

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