“The spiritual journey is one of becoming real,” writes Sue Monk Kidd. Who am I? Why am I here? Why did that happen to me?
Journaling and memoir writing are not status updates on social media. You don’t have to be a gifted writer to keep a journal, neither do you have to be a seasoned writer to compose a spiritual memoir. But both start by writing: one sentence at a time, one memory at a time, one revelation at a time. The journal captures memories, whereas the memoir tries to find the deeper meaning and where God was in what happened.
Even when you’re not going through extreme life changes, journaling or free-writing can offer a useful way to examine the intersection between your inner and outer world. A transformation occurs when a memory leads to a revelation. A wise witness emerges from within — the one who can extract the insights and magic from life events. As the late playwright Ntozake Shange concluded in her award-winning play about women’s self-discovery, For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide: “I found God in myself, and I loved Her fiercely.”
This workshop is open to women writers who want to hone their skill in writing short personal essays. With examples from contemporary memoirs, and with some guided questions, participants will take several journal entries or free-writes and shape them into a short piece of memoir about finding God, their voice, and purpose in life. Participants will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their work and also to receive coaching from Kathryn V. Stanley on workshop piece(s).
Renita Weems is a writer, a minister, a biblical scholar, and a person who has been journaling for more than 30 years. She has lectured and written widely on topics of religion, women in the bible, and women’s spirituality. Among her written works are Just A Sister Away (1987 & 2005); What Matters Most: Ten Lessons on Living Passionately from the Song of Solomon (2003), and her award winning, Listening for God: A Minister’s Journey Through Silence and Doubt (2000), which won the Religious Communicators’ Council’s prestigious 1999 Wilbur Award for “excellence in communicating spiritual values to the secular media.”
Kathryn V. Stanley is an Atlanta-based English educator, writer, editor and public theologian whose writing credits include Essence, Emerge and Sojourners magazines. Her most recent work includes the Fall 2018 quarter of Judson Bible Journeys for Adults and her article titled “Behold, She Stands at the Door: Black Women, Entry and the Black Church” was published in the Journal of Prison Education and Reentry. Stanley has worked as an editor for Judson Press, Pilgrim Press, and Black Issues Book Review. She supports both youth and adults to enhance their writing skills in schools, congregations and with community groups, and has assisted numerous authors to prepare their work for publication. Stanley, an intergenerational daughter of teachers and preachers, was educated in the public schools of Washington, DC, Spelman College, the University of Virginia School of Law, and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
The Collegeville Institute will cover travel expenses to and from the workshop within the continental United States, all workshop fees, and room and board. International travel costs, and travel from Hawaii and Alaska may be shared between the Collegeville Institute and the workshop participant. Those who join the workshop will be expected to reside at the Collegeville Institute throughout the entire week. Participants may share apartment space, though each person will be assigned a private bedroom. The program is limited to 12 participants.
Some advance reading and/or writing may be required in preparation for the workshop.
The application deadline for this workshop has passed.