In May of 2013, Erica Eichelkraut Zilbauer, owner of Main Studios in Buffalo, New York, asked me if I wished to hold Creative Writing Workshops at her studio. I have never taught any workshops, hold no degree in writing or education, yet I agreed, hoping there were a way I were able to bring something different to the workshops instead of the typical courses that really do not teach you about what being a writer is like, let alone the creative process as a whole. Most classes based upon writing focus on literary giants throughout history and works of immense international praise, leaving out the various styles of writing, as well as the diverse ways one creates in their everyday lives.
BUFFALO, NY (Blog) - Immediately, I started contacting organizations and writers and artists in my city for their experience and assistance and what occurred as a result blew me away.
Starting with the support of Poets & Writers.org, Just Buffalo Literary Center, Delizon Publishers, Think Twice Radio, Publish America, and Big Marker, six different entities provided continuous free books, magazines, web space, and audio production. Locally, people began donating supplies, and most importantly, their own experience as writers and educators. The literary community of Western New York is immense and supportive, yet the response I received was something I did not expect.
Through the organizations and people, I were able to provide not only a forum for creativity, but full print journals, personal books, memoirs, supplies, print magazines, and quarterly publications and hand them to the attendees once a month. It felt great to be able to give to those who took the time to be interested in even one workshop.
The ideas overflowed as to what I wished to present that will be interesting, fun and useful to share for all people and ages. I put together a quick syllabus based upon my writing experience and what I have learned through the guidance of those who helped me through the years. It was extremely difficult to bring the most essential information to people in only three workshops, spaced out monthly, so I focused on what is most important in my everyday life as a writer.
Three words: To simply create.
Every workshop was an open forum for discussion, there were no rules, everyone had a chance to voice what they learned, accomplished, and to share their work and experience. My only hope was that I were able to guide correctly without being boring. My greatest hope for an end result was that people created something, anything, that they were happy with and to record their work as a publishing credit for spoken word.
As I began promotion for the workshops, nationally and globally, people were interested and wished they were able to attend. From that point, I made the workshops virtual. This way anyone in the entire world can attend and be a part of creating something they can be proud of. Once again, the response received from holding a virtual classroom was astonishing. From New York to Peru to Pakistan to Tunisia, people were interested. Before I knew it, these little workshops were turning into much more than creative writing lessons.
Instead of having people sit for hours watching video, I audio recorded the workshops, took photos, and created an online virtual network that includes over 70 free books, audio from each workshop, photos, and the same information used in Buffalo. As a radio producer, audio is easier to download, stream, and listen to when ever one had the time. I asked the virtual attendees if that was okay and it was and off we went on a journey where all involved taught me so much more about writing.
Each workshop, I invited a guest speaker, everyone of them different. Jim Petretta spoke about storytelling, Kenneth Feltges about poetry and education, and Janna Willoughby-Lohr about speaking your work and finding that creative place inside. Every week I received emails from people telling me how they had never written before until now, have never spoken their work, never recorded their voice, and how they had a piece published. People were actually enjoying the workshops and feeling good about what they were doing!
Although this began with Erica and myself, what ensued is due to the people who created and gave to the workshops. Through their continuous emails, support, suggestions, in class insights and online correspondence, I became enlightened and understood that these workshops never belonged to me. We created them together and in turn, created pieces of work that I am proud to display to the world.
To those who attended, to those who have written, to those who have recorded their work and to those who have donated their time, guidance and assistance, it is due to all of you that I am able to sit here and know in my heart that there is indeed so much beauty in our world.
To everyone reading, please, create . . .
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