February 8, 2022 by Debra Gittler
You’re good, write?
At ConTextos, we try to practice what we preach, so writing together is a regular activity. At least once a week, we gather to process together.
And lately, there’s been a lot to process. We’ve all heard the joke… 2020, too. But it doesn’t feel like 2020 all over again. This time feels different. And it’s hard. Not just the Omicron and how we’re all constantly rescheduling because of an exposure or a symptom. Not the regular disappointment of something cancelled. Not the frustration of the snow or the ice or the shoveling or the cold.
But absolutely it is, a little bit, about the constancy of grief. The accumulation of so much grief. The grief of these two years, the grief of shootings and homicides, the grief of another young person who lost something or someone, an opportunity, a sense of peace, a sense of hope.
Let’s be gentle on ourselves, I remind the team.
And when we gather together to write, we take the time to be gentle with each other.
Team writing is just a greeting, an introduction, sharing a video or a reading, and 3 prompts for 10 minutes of free write.
Then, we share. If we want to, we share.
Sometimes, there’s a lot of awkward silences, waiting to see who will volunteer. Often, we have visitors join us, and they’re learning the rhythms and feedback norms that have become natural.
And always, our colleague dr moore reminds us that no piece of spontaneous writing is ever finished, it’s just a starting place. We write together not because of the piece that we want to publish, but because of the process of sharing what comes up. We write together not for the final product, but for the release that pours onto the page, and the connection we build when we share those words aloud.
Next week, we’ll be celebrating our first publication event of 2022, honoring the newest Authors of CRED North Lawndale. These Authors did write to publish, but the process was just as much about release and repair, about connection and candor.
Their pieces are, frankly, heavy. Their voices are so clear, their grief is so palpable.
Excerpt from North Lawndale upcoming publication: Men of the Westside Speak: Only a Few Listen
And yet, what stands out more than anything, is the hope and resilience and inspiration and joy.
There is dancing and deliciousness, even amidst sorrow. There is love and laughter, even in the memories of loss.
Our work is about holding space to process. And it’s also about holding space to celebrate.
I am so happy to be able to gather in celebration! Even more so given all the grief. As we celebrate North Lawndale Authors, the first of so many upcoming publication celebrations for this 2022, and all of which this year will be in person (knock on wood, spit spit, throw salt), we’re remembering to be gentle, and that this isn’t 2020, too, at all.
And hopefully soon, we can expand our audiences to fit more people in the room. To bring together our vast community. Because these stories, and these Authors, are created during a process of healing, and in their presentation, help us move forward in connection.
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