After being a part of the Girls Write Now community for a year now, I have come to love the GWN office where one Saturday, every month, mentees and mentors gather together to explore new categories of writing, participate in craft talks with female editors/writers, meet new people, and connect with one another on different levels. A few days ago, I attended the first genre workshop of the 2013-2014 writing year — the Music Memoir workshop! Here are some of my favorite moments:
Moment One: The Opera. As I stepped out of the elevator on the 18th floor and picked up a pen to sign in, my ears filled with the LOUD sounds of Angela Szpak’s beautiful voice singing opera. Settling down amongst the enthusiastic crowd of mentees and mentors, reading the lyrics and English translation of what she was singing, I felt as though I was at a private musical.
Moment Two: The Memories. Sitting on a foldable white chair, listening to Rebecca, the Girls Write Now Senior Program Coordinator and afternoon workshop leader, read out the names of new mentee-mentor pairs, flickers of excitement ran through me like sudden quick waves of wind.
I traveled a year back to when Rebecca called out my first and last name, followed by my mentor’s: “Bushra Miah… Gillian Reagan.” I felt the same amount of exhilaration and nervousness. The flashback was pretty amazing and I was happy to remind myself of the even more amazing opportunity I was given to spend yet another year with Gillian and the rest of the Girls Write Now clique!
Moment Three: The Professional. Having Courtney E. Smith come in and read excerpts from her 2011 musical memoir, Record Collecting for Girls, was sensational! The brief Q & A session that came afterwards was entertaining, thoughtful, and inspiring, as it filled in the missing female perspective about music — at least in this male dominant world. Right after the workshop, I purchased an electronic version of her book, and I must say, reading about music has never been more pleasurable!
Moment Four: The Collaboration. Chatting with other mentees and mentors during small group discussions! It’s always nice to talk about your writing and share your thoughts with the people around you, especially when you don’t know them so well. Although it can be a bit intimidating stepping out of your comfort zone, every experience I’ve had has been deeply rewarding, and I even found I could somehow associate or relate myself to the other person. It’s truly amazing how much you can learn about yourself — and others — just from small interactions like these!
Moment Five: The End. Writing to the prompts in the workshop packet, while music played out of two little speakers, filling in the silence of the 247 West 37th Street headquarters, as everyone serenely transcribed their thoughts onto paper; I remember looking up from my writing, trying to soak up the moment and I got the feeling that every person in the room was amounting to one single unified power: the power of writing and collaboratively being in charge of making the female voice into a universal one.