Instructor: Rhonda Wiley-Jones
Maximum Enrollment: 8
Class Term: 10/05/2020 - 11/02/2020
SCN Member: $128.00
Class synopsisThis four-week class will focus on writing a letter or any other form of writing to the powers that be in your life. That could be a letter to a family member you need to stand up to; a letter to the editor on an issue; a letter to a politician that you want to influence with your thoughts and values; or any kind of letter (sent or not) that helps you express what is true for you based on your experience in life and your values. We will work to make each letter empathic, compassionate, but non-apologetic for our truth.
The class will consider the consequences of speaking truth to power (a Quaker nonviolent approach to resistance); explore the concept of “earned facts,” your truth based on direct personal experience; and then write your truth in any format that speaks to that as viewed through lived experience. You will search and find that piercing story, parable, metaphor that conveys your truth.
I have personally had to write “that” letter to family members and another to one in my own political party to take the snark out of our local newsletter. We need to develop and hone this skill in our current environment of us vs. them. While we as women in many ways need to learn to speak our experience and our truth, we will practice that in this workshop.
1. Write an essay, letter, poem, song lyrics, or some format for your story to someone truthfully and compassionately to expand another person’s understanding of your worldview. 2. Write to explore and find your truth, write to discover your heart’s desire, write to find a voice to approach others with whom you disagree, or with whom you need them to know who you are. 3. Consider the tone of your writing and revise it until it’s palatable to the receiver without losing your integrity. 4. Review other students’ writing and give feedback that is heartening and helpful to write truthfully and compassionately.
Class communication methodAs instructor, I’ll provide handouts, introduce topics, facilitate class discussion, and encourage others to read their work to the group and for others to give feedback, as I give feedback to individual students. A suggested reading resource would be Dr. Mary Piper’s book, Writing to Change the World. Students will participate in class discussion, read their work aloud (if they choose), discuss their process of writing, and offer gentle feedback to other writers.
Class #1 (Sept. 29):
Introduce concept of “earned facts” of your own experience and how they have influenced you in some way. Discuss topics that each writer wants to pursue. Explore the concept of speaking truth to power, or in our case writing truth to power. Consider the consequences of writing your truth, whether in a sent or unsent letter, or any type or piece of writing you want to use. Search for the courage to uncover our truth to share with others. As Joan Didion said, “We write to discover what we think.” Assignment: Write three pieces in different genres to find your truth through exploratory writing, such as poems, song lyrics, blog posts, letters to the editor, story format as nonfiction, essay, or another other means.
Class #2 (Oct. 6):
Willa Cather said, “Truth is best achieved by suggestion.” Discuss the process of writing to discover what your truth is—good, bad, or indifferent. Explore the possibility of using metaphor, parable, or story to convey your truth and transform your soul to paper; the importance of humility; the value of suggestion instead of demands or dictates; and how to communicate that. Discuss the format and value of using one genre over the other for your purposes to draft your writing piece. Assignment: Draft a writing piece with all the practical understanding you can bring to bear on your truth.
Class #3 (Oct. 13):
Discuss and problem-solve all issues that students are encountering in the writing process. Encourage the words Jane Kenyon said, “The poet’s (I would say writer’s) job is to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, in such a way that people cannot live without it; to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name.” In preparation for the assignment of revision, consider Marion Dane Bauer words. “Never think of revising as fixing something that is wrong. That starts you off in a negative frame of mind. Rather think of it as an opportunity to improve something you already love.” Assignment: Revise your draft to refine your tone and meaning.
Class #4 (Oct. 20):
Discuss the writing process, your ability to adjust you tone and amplify your meaning. Deliberate on how this has empowered you as a person and a writer–from ‘writing truth to power’ to ‘writing truth to empower.’ Consider how this writing project has changed you and how it could change others. Gandhi said, “Change occurs when deeply felt private experiences are given public legitimacy.” Assignment: Decide whether to send to a person or to a place to publish your piece.
Class time commitmentTuesdays, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, 13, and 20, at 4-5:00 CDT on Zoom Personal time given to class is 2-5 hours a week.
Rhonda Wiley-Jones taught Story Circle Network’s class Travel Touchstones on Zoom during the last session. She has taught workshops on travel journal writing, travel writing, and the craft of writing for community members, college faculty, and students face-to-face.
Wiley-Jones self-published her coming-of-age travel memoir, At Home in the World: Travel Stories of Growing Up and Growing Away. Her short stories, essays, and travel memoirs are published on the WritingItReal and WOW Women on Writing websites, and in anthologies, such as Saturday Writers’ annual anthologies; God Still Speaks; Love Is in the Air; True Words from Real Women; Inside Out; and poetry in Ethos. And is most recently published in Flash Fiction Magazine (August 16).
For the last 2-3 years, she has written a travel tips column and travel stories for two local lifestyle magazines in the Texas Hill Country. And has had a letter-to-the-editor published 2017.