During the month of November, the Collegeville Institute hosted three virtual writing workshops that originally were intended to be in-person at regional sites across the United States. Despite the challenge of moving to a virtual format, participants were able to meet over zoom daily during the workshop week. They shared and critiqued personal writing, as well as learned from workshop leaders who gave craft lectures.
Mapping the Geography of Grace: A Writing Workshop for Clergy was led on zoom by Robert Benson and Becky Youngblood on Friday, November 6th – Friday, November 13th, 2020.
One participant reflected on the virtual experience: “Unlike other workshops in which the return to “our real lives” entails implementing new practices after the fact, my writing space never moved… Absolutely, I would participate in another online writing workshop.” Another commented: “I know that this format doesn’t afford all of the “amazingness” of the full Collegeville experience – and I hope to have the opportunity to enjoy that again one day – but I considered this virtual workshop a beautiful gift.”
The Writing for Mystic Activists writing workshop (Monday, November 9th – Friday, November 13th, 2020) also met online with leaders Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
In their evaluation, one participant wrote: “Workshopping the writing samples was a breakthrough for me. The feedback I received has led me to consider putting together a book proposal for publication. I didn’t have that thought when the week started. It was also amazing seeing the voices of my fellow participants come off the page. These are brilliant people whose voices are necessary.”
Another reflected: “There are many things I’ll take with me, but the notion of accountability is really at the top of the list. I keep asking who am I accountable to in my writing? Who am I writing to? Who am I writing for?”
The final writing workshop in November was Writing Spirit, Writing Faith led by Mary Potter, which met via zoom last week.
One participant described workshop leader Mary Potter’s facilitation and teaching style as “wonderful spirit-filled leadership. She invited us to embrace the sacred and created a safe space for vulnerability and honesty. She was knowledgeable about the subject matter but also presented things in an accessible manner.”
When asked what insight they will take with them following the workshop, one person reflected: “Spiritual writing works well when we are interrogating our doubts. There should be a process of discovery for you as a writer.”