I’ve been a facilitator for creative writing workshops, offered by my local community center, for a decade. One of the best things about this job is reading and listening to the stories of attendees who seek feedback for their memoirs, creative nonfiction, novels, and so forth.
What I’ve learned over the past decade is that being born and raised in Canada, has pretty much given me a sheltered life compared to others. I’ve worked with writers from Iraq, France, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, India, Australia, and other countries that have suffered greatly from war, droughts, violent misogyny, racial prejudice, disease, and poverty on a scale I couldn’t have imagined until I heard their stories.
I watch a lot of national news, which tends to capture short segments of hardships in other parts of the world. But these stations play the same clips over and over without digging much deeper except for the occasional documentary. Yes, the images are heartbreaking and shocking, but making a lasting impact is diminished when those images are constantly replaced by commercials for Ford trucks and super soft toilet paper.
I’m grateful to these writers for opening my eyes in vivid, excruciating detail. I hope they all publish their books one day, and then I will tell you about them and hope that you read them.