"I am looking to deepen the breadth and depth of my encounter with literature--different authors, genres, crafts of writing. Can I expect that here?" Yes and no is the best answer. Our circles gather to encourage the individual voice and to deepen awareness through ancient-new practices of community. We welcome a new poet in every week--at least one--and we will share readings from time to time on the craft(s) of writing or authors' views on the creative life. We are not a literature circle, however, nor a more traditionally-organized 'learning environment' for canons of literature. Not only are there no 'red pens' in a WWfaC circle (for feedback or anything like that), the circle gathers to invite the archetype of Circle to life and the wisdom within the Whole to come to voice.
“I only write in my journal and sometimes not even very often. Is that enough for 'writing' for WWf(a)C?” YES! An unqualified affirmation and invitation to all journal-writers, list-poets, creative grocery-list writers and margin-jotters. William Stafford once said, “Writers are not those with special skills, but simply those who trust what occurs to them.” Or as founder Mary Pierce Brosmer once asked an uncertain woman-writing, “Do you have something to say? Then you’re a writer!” Each of us has something to say, though we often need to “catch” the courage of a sister who has begun to speak her mind, in her voice, for the first time. Many of us prioritize circle in our life precisely so we will write every week.
Can I find support and feedback for a larger manuscript project like a book? Yes, though the nature of the writing (genre, stage, etc.) may qualify that ‘yes.’ We offer an excellent space and opportunities for receiving any feedback you request. The community connects writers with one another and weekly meetings provide structure for committed writing. Dissertation writing, on the other hand, is often so highly specialized in discourse and lengthy in duration that it usually exceeds the small and large group ‘containers’ held by facilitators and participants in WWf(a)C.
I’m not sure what I would even write. What kind of writing is expected? WWf(a)C’s mission is to bring women to words, bringing their experience and wisdom to light for their own sake and for the good of the world. You need not know what kind of writing you will do. Sometimes it’s even better to be surprised by what comes. Each class offers a “fastwrite” period of time when the circle engages the practice of writing together. Participants are invited and usually expected to bring a piece of writing of some kind to small group, but women also come without any prepared writing and simply share what arrives during the “fastwrite.”
What do you mean by “transition”? I’m thinking I need a space to reflect on my life in a new way but I don’t know what I want to do or how to proceed. Can I reflect more intentionally in a WWf(a)C circle? ‘Transition’ comes when we least expect it, both personally and in our work-lives. Women have found in WWf(a)C circles avenues to their own deepest wisdom and renewed insight for more-conscious choices in their lives. Myself, I had had a bad day at work on February, came home in a huff, put into Google’s search-pane “women” and “writing.” Information on the mother-school was one of the first links, and I signed up for a core-course. I have clarified my passions in religious leadership, discovered a new writing voice in both prose and poetry, been returned to my deepest self for relationship and service. My life has changed tremendously even as I’m still at the same job and alive in my relationships in a renewed way.
I work in a helping-profession that requires confidentiality. Will my writing be held in confidence? How do I hold both my self-care and the ethics of my profession? Each WWf(a)C circle offers opportunity to share our words, and each readaround and small-group setting is a practiced confidential space. It is stated before each sharing and regularly assessed in bounded practices of community and emotional health. Therapists, counselors, etc. often find a safe place in which to be held by a confidential circle of women, though each has to negotiate their participation alongside any conflicts of interest if another participant has a working-clinical relationship with them.
What is meant by “systems of silencing”? Many women have learned in both explicit and implicit ways that the world is uninterested or even overtly hostile to women’s well-being, their experience, their voices. Effort and advocacy have heightened awareness of women’s value in local and global perspectives, but our world remains a very unsafe place to be a woman. Whether it’s an unconscious rape culture at a national university or unending cycles of domestic violence across rural, suburban, and urban North America, women face explicit threats to physical and emotional harm. Living in this environment conditions women to internalize both fear and silence of themselves. How do we bring women to words when so many of us have chosen silence, for the good sake of safety or security? It is the conviction of WWf(a)C that when women’s ways of being and women’s words come gently, fiercely into the world, both men and women find liberation to nurture, develop and celebrate the individual voice toward communal transformation, to live in a world where each of us is free because all of us are.