Look up! My favorite spot for trees in Florida.
I’m just going to say it: never in my life has a class made me feel so uncomfortable. Ever.
Having said that, I am thankful for the course. Why? Because that sort of discomfort was intentional. It was meant to challenge us, engage us, and urge us to look at the world around us a little bit differently.
Even though I felt extraordinarily embarrassed at times, I also knew this was precisely the kind of class I needed. As a very worrisome and neurotic person, I know the importance of letting loose and learning to be comfortable in your own skin and around others as well. It can be hard to relax in a group of strangers, but week after week, I found myself more at home with not only what we were doing every Tuesday, but with the people, too.
For those of us who are naturally confident and at ease with others, maybe all of this was no big deal. But for me, a highly sensitive and shy person, this course helped me a lot.
I was especially glad that closer to the end of our time together, our own work was also integrated into the physical work we had been doing in the course. We drew on past feelings, situations, and experiences to ultimately craft personal writings as well as a final project that was all about us. It was our chance to say what we wanted to say. What is more exciting to a writer than that?
As writers, we can be very rigid. I know I am. I am traditional in the sense that I like to sit at my desk, have a clear direction, and write quietly. I don’t want any distractions. I don’t often think about my body or my movements as I write. I think about my idea, my keyboard, my cup of coffee…and that’s about it. It is easy to get stuck in that cycle.
In Writing and Experiment, however, we rarely sat down. We embraced distractions. We moved around the room, we took walks, we rubbed each others backs, we held hands, etc. I think it is easy to find this stuff weird–and maybe it is–but I am also a believer in being present, aware, and noticing everything. I find that endlessly valuable and this course heightened that sense of mindfulness which, at the end of the day, can only help my writing. The more alive we are, the better we will see things and the better we will write.
We all approach our creative work differently and I think this class made us see that. While I might not use the actual performative, physical exercises for my own personal work, I will absolutely take what those exercises taught me about the art of observation, perception, and attention. I think the first step to writing well exists long before the first idea or image or even the characters. It exists before what we want to say and what the theme will be. The first true step of writing centers on letting go and feeling your feelings. That might sound silly, but we have to notice the world and be unendingly touched by it day after day. If we’re not, why write? Look at the trees, feel the wind, hug the people you love. We need to be sensitive; we need to be emotional to the point of insanity; we need to be aware that being alive is a gift in itself. That is the heart of writing. That is the pulse of creation. Writing and Experiment taught me to tap into that pulse specifically. It taught me to pay attention, to feel whatever I need to feel, and by all means… Go a little crazy.