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Senior Services offers creative writing classes through Spark the Arts grant

Senior Services offers creative writing classes through Spark the Arts grant
December 30
06:02 2022

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Five older adults sat at the front of the conference room at Senior Services on Dec. 8, anxiously awaiting their turn to read the stories they have been working on during a six-week creative writing class. Through a Spark the Arts grant Senior Services received from the Arts Council of North Carolina, they were able to hire Nathan Ross Freeman, co-founder of Authoring Action, to teach the classes. 

Ross Freeman is a well-known local author and playwright and has conducted writing classes on topics ranging from story construction to writing a ten-minute play, and works with teens and young adults to learn to express their thoughts and emotions through writing and spoken word performance.

The skill level and experience of the class participants ranged from none to frequent writers and even a book author. No matter the point from which each writer was beginning, they all agreed that Ross Freeman’s instruction inspired them to reach outside their comfort zone, develop and hone their writing skills.

The participants of the first writing class were Bill Hardin, Diane Fitzhugh, Rosa Johnson, Dothula Baron and Sandra Campbell. As each writer stood up and began to read their story, it was obvious they were doing more than reading from a page, they were reading from their heart and incorporated performance art into reciting their pieces.  Two themes had been presented to the class – courage and peace – and each writer took a different slant on writing about their experiences while incorporating the theme. 

By coming together each week and writing together, the diversity of the group became an important part of creating a cohesive writing group. Ross Freeman stressed the difference between being an author and being a writer: authors write to be published, writers write to share their stories. They were also taught how to perform their writing in front of others instead of just reading it.

Creative Connections Director Melissa Smith said that one of the questions they hoped to answer with the writing class is: what difference does a six-week writing class make in a senior’s life? During the Q&A after the presentation, several of the writers spoke about how working together each week, discussing what they were working on, helped encourage each other with their writing. One participant, Rosa Johnson, said, “The class inspired me. I am grateful for all of my classmates as we formed a loving community.”

Diane Fitzhugh, who wrote about courage in a humorous way, describing courage as a life jacket you put on when you’re facing a tough situation when “your head and your heart are at war with each other.”  When talking about what the class did for her, she summed it up beautifully when she said, “Courage is a healing light for the aging.”

The creative writing class will be offered again in the spring. For more information, email Melissa Smith at msmith@nullseniorservicesinc.org.

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