SORROW’S WORDS: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief by Sheila Bender
START DATE: Monday, March 18, 2019
END DATE: Sunday, April 28, 2019
DURATION: 6 weeks
COURSE DESCRIPTION: There are periods in our lives when we deeply mourn losses, whether they be of loved ones, colleagues, friends, opportunities, or declining health. Using writing strategies in the company of others also writing from grief can help us come at our feelings directly as well as slant to face challenges and restore our life spirit. In our six weeks together, we will create narratives of our loss and use inventive writing exercises to re-vision our lives so we can carry the lives of others (including our own pasts) as we travel a new path.
Each week participants will complete a piece of writing and may also submit a revision after they have received instructor and classmates’ responses. The course material will share strategies the instructor used in writing her memoir, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief to come to terms with the loss of her 25-year-old son, who died in a snowboarding accident. Participants will read selections from her memoir as well as selections from others writing about grief.
COURSE OBJECTIVES: To use writing as a way of exploring the pain of loss so that the joy of life is restored despite sadness and sorrow. Publishable writing may result and the instructor will share venues looking for writing that helps others in grief.
Sheila, I will take every possible class you teach that I can get to. Your insight, knowledge, and incredible warmth and encouragement made our class the highlight of all those I’ve ever taken. Can’t thank you enough. ~ Shirley Clukey
I have taken several online courses with relatively famous women writers, and you have been the most giving and involved with genuine feedback and follow-through. I thank you for that. I have learned from reading your remarks to others and the assignments have been thought-provoking and challenging—just the right mix for an aspiring writer. ~ Lori Talarico
This has been the most wonderful and challenging workshop I’ve ever taken. You introduced me to authors, techniques and mind-blowing assignments. Before this workshop, I would have never thought of writing a memoir in an essay format. You taught me a very powerful lesson of how writing to myself through a historical figure (very mysterious) can heal the spirit within, softly approaching life’s most heart wrenching problems on paper. I can’t wait to sign up for another one of your thought provoking workshops online. ~ Cheryl Kesling
. . . this has been a very productive class for me. I’ve learned a lot and feel like I have grown a lot in the process. ~ Margaret Riordon
First, I just want to say thank you for this course. I began focusing my time on writing last fall, but found that I needed some guidance. I was looking for a new perspective, a container that would help to create a form for what I was trying to capture. You have introduced some new authors that will help me to move in new directions. ~ Debra Gilbreath
I’ve taken several classes with Sheila. Always, she’s provided generous support, great tips for writing skills, and the kind of encouragement that makes me want to write more. I look forward to the process of learning how to write better. I think due to her instruction, I am becoming a better writer. ~ Cassandra Hamilton
What I am particularly struck by with Sheila is that she presents a great comforting wisdom from her background and experience; yet she also has an enthusiasm for the craft of writing that feels like she just got started yesterday. The enthusiasm is contagious and really inspired me to open up and let my inner critic take a break... it is a great skill and talent to mix nurturing support with honest critical comments. I feel Sheila possesses that type of talent and finesse. ~ Wendy A. Johnson
WEEKS AT A GLANCE:
Week One: Getting Started
What loss are you grieving? What are you hoping writing will do or be for you in the grief process?
Assignment: The instructor will provide reading material both in posted documents and via online links for participants to access at no extra charge. She will post questions for writers to focus their narrative of grief.
Week Two: The Use of Repetition and Rhythm in Writing Grief
Reading the work of Walt Whitman helps us express our grief and our joy whether we write poetry or prose. We will explore the use of anaphora (a carrying back to carry forward) in his work and in the work of French poet Robert Desnos.
Assignment: We will read Walt Whitman’s many poems including selections from Leaves of Grass and the work of poet Edward Hirsch on Walt Whitman and Robert Desnos as prelude to writing our own memories.
Week Three: “Tell the Truth But Tell It Slant” – Emily Dickinson
We will do as Emily Dickinson instructs us in her poem.
Tell All the Truth
Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;
As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
Assignment: The instructor will provide ideas inspired by fiction writer John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction for allowing images you select from places you go to tell the truth but tell it slant.
Week Four: Creating and Preserving Rituals We Can Write From
Rituals of the past may need to be remembered for us to encompass loss and new rituals may be sources of remembrance as well as commitment to absorbing grief and living with the spirit of those who have left us (including former abilities of our own).
Assignment: The instructor will post writing that describes rituals and participants will write poetry/prose about their own.
Week Five: Looking for the Meaning of Life is Looking for the Experience of Being Alive
As those who mourn and must adjust to changes in our lives, we often feel as if our experience of being alive is bottled up, not allowed full expression in the culture we live in. We must look to our writing for the deep and enriching expression we have committed to the page.
Assignment: A look into the writing you’ve done these past four weeks will reveal insight about your experience of being alive. Participants will write about where in their writing they find what is most alive in them right now and they will write from exercises about being present to the world, the richness each contributes, and the richness the world contributes to them.
Week Six: Where do we go from here?
It may take a bit longer than six weeks to feel the new life writing from grief has bestowed. But you may already feel the value of the work you have created, and that is a start. This week’s assignment will be about finding venues for sharing your writing and your ability to process grief through writing. Those venues include publishing, guest blogging, and writing for local grief groups.
Notes: The instructor post each of the six weeks’ lessons with exercises and models at the opening of each week so students can work on generating that writing on their own time, at their own speed during the week. She will respond to posted work and questions within 48 hours so the writer can get started on revising. Revisions can be posted at any time during our six weeks together. The class will use a private Google Group, to which the instructor will provide access and help learning the ropes. Please provide a Gmail address for the classroom use.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Sheila Bender, founder of WritingItReal.com, is the author of many books on writing, including the popular Writing Personal Essays: Shaping and Sharing Your Life Experience and Creative Writing DeMystified. Her memoir is entitled A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief. Her book of poems is Behind Us the Way Grows Wider. She has been updating previously published books. Two of them are now available in print and digitally on Amazon and through bookstores: Writing in a Convertible with the Top Down, co-authored with Christi Killien Glover, and Sorrow’s Words: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief. As a writer, teacher and editor, she believes that writing so others understand our hearts and minds helps us understand ourselves, heal grief and sadness and grow. She is a frequent presenter at conferences and writers’ centers such as Centrum Foundation’s summer Port Townsend Writer’s Conference, the Whidbey Island’s writer’s conference workshops, the Writer’s Workshoppe in Port Townsend, WA, and the Kahini writing program’s writer’s workshops.
COST: $180. The class will use a Google Groups format, to which the instructor will provide access and help learning the ropes.
BUY NOW: Sorrow’s Words: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief, by Sheila Bender (6 weeks, starting 3/18/2019) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.
For Class Session Starting 3/18/2019
Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor.
Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:
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