Thursday, July 3, 2008

Journal Class

My Journal Workshop proposal was accepted by our community education program, and so assuming my background check comes back all right (tremble, shiver, whimper), I will be teaching the class in October. The class will be taught in four ninety-minute sessions.

I've never taught a writing class before...but I was on speech team and drama club in high school, I gave a lot of seminars in graduate school, and I have volunteered to come into my children's classrooms several times to talk about poetry writing, so I don't really have a problem with getting up in front of people and talking...but I would like to ask you, my bloggity friends (to borrow Coco's wonderful word!) what you would hope to get out of such a class.

The class description I submitted to be published in the course offerings magazine is as follows:

Whether you are already keeping a journal or just thinking about it, come join us! We will talk about the benefits of keeping a journal and look at different types of journals and a variety of techniques to try in your own journal writing. We will also discuss how journal entries can lead naturally into other types of creative writing.

So if you were signing up for a class of that description, what would you hope to get out of it? What kinds of things would you want the instructor to talk about? I'm going to ask this question of the class as well, so I can tailor the material to their interests, but it never hurts to be able to anticipate what sorts of things might come up.

If you want to respond to this but haven't signed up for a Blogger ID or OpenID, go ahead and shoot me an email at jazz_in_pieces(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Writing Prompt: Every single one of us has an area about which we are knowledgeable, something that we know well or do well. What do you consider your own area of expertise? Maybe you make the world's best chocolate chip cookies, or maybe you have a flair for decorating, or are a world-class story-teller. Have you ever considered passing on your knowledge? What would be the best way for you to do this?


Gianna said...

I feel sooo sleepy right now...I'm due to cut my Lamictal tonight and I can tell it's I have nothing insightful or helpful to say...I can't come up with anything for my blog either...

But I do want to say....CONGRATS!!

I'm so happy for you and proud too!! I really got excited when I read the news that you had gotten the job.

You are truly an inspiration to me.

Anonymous said...

Very exciting to be teaching a class.
Are you going to touch on the mental health aspect at all.

Are you public about this?

Jazz said...

Oh, thank you Gianna! I'm proud of me, too. This is a huge step forward for me--you have no idea how huge a step...if you could have seen me four years ago...well, actually, with all the recovery stories you've read and all the crap you've gone through I'm sure you have a pretty good idea, actually! I'd practically given up all hope for the future to be anything but a haze of drugs and exhaustion and brain fog.

Anyway, I'll be working on my class notes for the next couple of months, so if you should come up with any thoughts later on, please don't hesitate to share them.

Hope the Lamictal cut goes well. I'll be thinking of you. You're pretty inspirational yourself, you know!

Jazz said...

I doubt I will touch on that aspect except as it relates to using the journal as a tool for healing, which I do want to cover. The amount of time I spend on it will depend upon the level of interest in the class. I am not averse to talking about my diagnosis if it comes up and the context is appropriate, but it's not something I just put out there, either.

If this class goes well, I may think about developing something a bit more specific, like a class on writing to heal.

Gianna said...

Oh Jazz,
I think I really do know what it means to you...that is why it makes me so happy and why you are an inspiration.

I know that helpless drugged out feeling of never being able to do anything...and in some ways I'm still there...I can't really do what I want right now...but I know I'm moving there and it's people like you who have been where I am...that give me hope and it's just such a pleasure to be thrilled for you and know that it's just a matter of time before it will be my turn too!

Much love to you! Your confidence is very inspiring too!

Jazz said...

And actually, one of the benefits of journal writing that I'll be covering is maintaining mental wellness, so I guess in that sense I will be talking about the mental health aspect!

Coco said...

Dearest Jazz, OMG! That is SOOOOOOOOO exciting! CONGRATULATIONS!! Did you do a little dance? Really, how exciting to get that news. I'm just thrilled for you, and I hope to think about it and come up with some ideas on what I think I'd like to get out of such a course. Right now I just jumped in here onto your blog and am responding to your latest post, but I see I have 7 others of yours to catch up on. There's not enough time in the days anymore! (((yay you)))coco

Jazz said...

Thanks, Gianna.
My confidence is actually quite amazing to me! I never had much of that when I was growing up.

I know that going through all that I went through was really crappy...but...dealing with that experience and healing myself has given me so much more insight into myself, and so much more of a sense of what is really important in life. I feel that I've gained a lot in terms of wisdom and in terms of understanding how little I really do need in order to be truly happy.

Your turn is indeed coming, and I will be cheering you on every step of the way!

Jazz said...

Thank you so much! I'm pretty excited about it. Yes, I did do a Happy Dance--I grabbed my daughter by the hands and we pranced about the kitchen laughing! The dogs thought I'd gone off the rails, and gave me very odd looks.

No rush on the I said above, I'll be working on course content for the next couple of months, so anytime you come up with something, just shoot it my way.

Glad to see you back! I missed you.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
Congratulations! This is great news. You've done such a terrific job with this topic on your blog that I'm sure you'll be a great success in the classroom. You must be thrilled!

I'm sure you're be a great success, and this will be the first of many classes and workshops you'll teach in this field!


Jazz said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Susan! I'm looking forward to it, and hoping that it starts me off in a new direction...I've always wanted to teach.

The Silent Voices in my Mind said...

How very exciting for you! I can think of so many things that I would love to have touched upon in a class like that. Some are obvious, like what to write about and why "bother" doing it at all. Where to find inspiration - maybe a handout with weblinks and book titles? I think having some guidance on how long to write at a time, what to do when you can't think of enough to fill the time limit you set for yourself, how to keep from getting over-enthusiastic on an entry and run into not being able get it finished because it's too long and detailed. Some relatively quick things that I would like to have addressed would be maintaining privacy (including when or why to share an entry with someone), choosing a journal that is right for you (paper, online, notebook paper in a binder, fancy diary, etc), choosing a time of day to write and an environment in which to do it, the use of music to affect mood while writing. Some other larger things that I would hope to have discussed would be how to really open up and be honest while journaling, and the difference between writing "for an audience" and writing for oneself and when to use each approach. It might also be worth mentioning the power of positive affirmations and the role religion can play in jornaling (though that would have to be brief and general or risk getting into a awkward position).

Okay, I think I've babbled enough. *blush*

Jazz said...

Silent Voices--
Thanks for all the great ideas! I hadn't thought of the use of music, but that's a good one...I can remember one book I read that talked about making it sort of a ritual--lighting a candle, playing a certain kind of music--so that eventually your mind would get the hint and you would kind of slide into journal writing mode easily just by setting up that environment each time.

Positive affirmation is a good topic to touch on, too.


Hannah said...

Hi, how about journals that use other means to communicate to the reader other than solely relying on the written word eg: pictures, paintings, doodles, photos, video and recorded dialogue.
Ways of encrypting the text, I know some people that have their own unique code they use to journal with.
Protecting their identity and personal safety particularly on internet blogs, Copywright?
Basic journal etiquette?!

Jazz said...

Hi, Hannah!
Although I'm planning to focus mainly on the written word, I am definitely going to talk about other ways one can record their thoughts. I had thought to talk about art journaling, but I hadn't even considered video and recorded dialogue, which, these days, wouldn't be hard to do at all. I will definitely mention those techniques as well.

Privacy is a huge issue, and I'll be covering that, particularly concerning blogs, and also in terms of protecting your work--whatever it is--from those you don't want to see it (I've only recently decided that some of what I write needs to be written longhand, transferred to a password-protected computer file, and then destroyed. I was amazed at how good it felt to shred the work after I'd transferred it to the computer!)

Thanks for your comments!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

If I were taking a journal writing class, I'd want to know the following:

1. What kind of journals have you kept? What value have they been for you?

2. What do your journal entries look like?

3. Is there a journal methodology you practice?

4. Is there a "good or bad" way to journal?

5. How can journal writing lead to creative writing? Have you done "creative writing?" Are there other examples of people who have?

But, you realize that this is just me. I was in academia for nine years and tend to feel that the teacher should have the credentials to teach the class.

And by credentials, I don't mean academic credentials--rather life credentials. I can think of no one better to teach the class than you. You've been journaling for so many years, you truly "get it", and you've been blogging about it as well.


Jazz said...

Thanks for your ideas! A lot of those things I am planning to address...I was going to do handouts of what a typical journal entry of mine looks like, and also some examples of what some of the different modes of expression look like--the difference between cathartic and descriptive writing, that sort of thing.

Your bit about how journal writing can lead to creative writing got me thinking...I think it might be valuable to follow the development of one of my favorite poems I wrote, which actually did come from a journal entry...type up the original journal entry, then highlight what parts I took from it, and show the development of the finished piece...because I think sometimes people need to see that progression.

It'll be interesting to see what kinds of people sign up for the class...whether there are people who are already keeping a journal and are looking to deepen what they're doing, or people who've never done it before...I hope there's a mixture, and I hope I can get a good dialogue going so that we can all learn from each other.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I hope you get a good mixed audience too. You might want to talk with the people at the college to discuss how they plan on promoting it.

And it's usually a good idea to a send press release on it to local press. Just a few thoughts. There's nothing worse than being really excited about teaching something and then finding out that there aren't enough people to make it go.


Jazz said...

Actually, I'm not doing this through a education around here is done through the public school system. They will publicize the class in a special section of our local paper where they publish course offerings each season, a magazine that gets sent out to everyone in the community, and on their website. Classes are taught in the school buildings during non-school hours, and pretty much anyone can sign up to teach a class, if they have something the community ed. director thinks would go over well. The gal I talked to about this class said they didn't have anything like it, and hadn't for a very long time...she wasn't even sure what to set the tuition at, so they are researching that right now. I set the class size from 6-12...I want it to be a small enough group that we can have some interesting discussions, but large enough that we get a variety of viewpoints. And I'll see how it goes from there...this session really will be a test of how much time it will take to teach what I want...I may discover it needs to be a six or eight week course instead of four...or that maybe an hour would be better than an hour and a half...I've never done this before, so I just don't know. But it should be an interesting experiment! And it's a pretty safe, easy way to get my feet wet, I think!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I'm sure it is a "pretty safe way to get your feet wet."

I'll never forget a film with Burt Reynolds called "Starting Over." He played a former advertising guy who got fired and was teaching a class. He introduced himself, went through all his material, looked at the clock and only two minutes (as far as I remember; maybe it was ten) had gone by. He said something like, "Guess I'll have to prepare more for next session."

My husband and I burst out laughing. We had both taught seminars and knew the feeling. You may not find it as funny as I do.


Jazz said...

Well, I figure if nothing else, I can always fall back on a writing exercise, and then invite people to share! I'll plan out the first class in a fair amount of detail, find out where the students' interests lie, and then go from there.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

That's absolutely right. When I did seminars, I always so "over-planned" that I never had a problem.