In preparing the lesson plan for three intensive workshop days, I’m putting in the work that I’ve thought about and used in various iterations leading up to these series. I think about this as I finally arrange the lesson plans in the order that I have in mind.
When I first told Hodan Warsame that I wanted to create a space for BIPOC people to write and engage with story, I didn’t know at the time that it would lead to me creating a different way of giving a workshop. But it has led me here and I find myself feeling grateful for the opportunity to share this with the participants who will come to the workshop.
I think about the initial response in the small groups where I’ve tried out some of the things that are going into this workshop and I can’t help but feel excited (although I will admit it is also scary). The thing is, until the workshop happens, there’s really no way of knowing how a particular group will respond and how certain exercises will work. Will the time we’ve planned for each activity be enough? Will it be too much? Have I paced the rhythm of the workshop right so participants don’t fall asleep? Will we be able to shape the space in such a way that it feels welcoming and inviting?
And then, I also have to face up to my own unpredictable stage fright. I know I have to be prepared and so I’m writing as much detail as I can because I am aware that I have moments when I suddenly freeze and my brain just blanks. Not something you want to happen when you’re doing a workshop as that tends to lead to awkward silences or to me just mumbling about unrelated stuff or rifling through my mental notebook.
But I’m learning too to remind myself that it’s okay to have those uncomfortable and awkward moments and it’s okay to tell participants that ‘my brain got stranded for a bit’. In my sharing with the guerrilla writers, as I talk about my own struggles with my work, I realised that doing this, being open about how I don’t know or how I am uncertain or unsure about how to say things also helps fledgling writers as it removes the ‘mystery’ often associated with writing.
I may be a bit farther in the journey, I may have written and done a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean that I am the expert. I think of it this way: my role is to share what I know. But the experts are the participants. Because each one comes to the workshop with their life experience, with their personal history, with the sound and rhythm of their own language, their songs, their dance, with the embodiment of culture, they are the experts. But what I can do is share what I know and gently encourage them to launch out on their own journey. If we can built a support network while we’re at it, that would be fantastic. At the very least, I want to take this opportunity to let participants know that they’re not alone in their journey.
I’m smiling as I think of how we had lesson plan preparation included in curriculum at the conservatory. Back then, I really didn’t know what they would be useful for. Now, I’m putting that knowledge to good use. I can’t help but think of this line right now: Everything you need, you already have with you or you will acquire it during the journey. (I think my son who loves doing those quest games would appreciate that line. 😆)
If you’re reading this, I wish you inspiration as you continue on the journey.