The Community Story is on a hiatus for now. I had to be frank with myself as to how much I could fit in my days and how much energy I could expend. We’ll be resuming sometime in the future with workshops meeting less frequently but with more intense exercises. We may be at the coffee house again or at the local library. It’s a work in progress.
Here is how it all began:
About 3 years ago, as I was reading about various writing and readers’ groups and how they started, I noticed that the readers’ groups were much more inclusive regarding the subject matter they chose to discuss. Many of the writing groups I’ve participated in were extremely supportive and inspiring, but, logically, they each tended to focus on one or maybe two genres. It’s of course more likely to get the kind of feedback you need from someone who works in a similar field. BUT I thought how wonderful it would be if people gathered, regardless of writing style and with one prompt in hand, and created a story together. A real writing community.
I had taught a class at Pace University entitled Folklore and Fairy Tales that had started me on this mindset originally. While it was a civic engagement/academic service learning course in which students were to take specific tales we studied in class and share them with school children in need of tutoring in reading or the elderly who might enjoy extra company and sharing their own stories with the students, it was also an environment where I could teach my students how to collaborate. They were to create two versions of stories such as Snow White (which we read in various redactions with the many different titles) or Red Riding Hood (also from multiple sources with differing names). One version was to be completed alone. The other was to be composed with an assigned group of classmates. The results varied widely and were all quite innovative. Some themes were very modern and addressed our economic situation using government officials in various roles. One was inspired by the student’s niece who was only 3 and had her own viewpoint on the grandmother’s role in the story.
So, with the college course on my mind and the thoughts on the writers’ groups, I decided to begin The Community Story. Originally online via Facebook, I reached out to my many creative friends, offered a one-paragraph prompt every couple of months, and sat back and read the contributing posts. Some stories ended up as comedies, others quite serious. It was not easy to predict which prompt would initiate what response. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I was unable to do the final edits. Those wonderful participants have since offered to resume and I am considering returning to the online medium in the future.
Please feel free to reach out to me for more info.