by Cindy Sharra, TWC Intern
As New Jersey’s prolonged winter loosened its grasp, the long-awaited summer took its place. Students from around the area parted from their schools and supplies – except from their pencils, that is. But they wouldn’t be used for writing research papers or untangling algebra equations. Instead, the participants of The Writers Circle’s Summer Creative Writing Intensive traded their identities as students for that of writers
These most exuberant of wordsmiths, aged 12-18, gathered in Summit for Week One. The week was devoted to every facet of the written word. Teenagers ranged throughout MONDO, twenty-one writers working in focused silence. All that could be heard was the scribbling of pencils and the hum of clicking laptop keys as we young writers joined a long literary tradition and made it our own.
We participated in a number of activities exercising our writing skills. From morning warm-ups to genre workshops – poetry with BJ Ward, screenwriting with Carol Forbes, and fiction with Jennifer Walkup – we learned from the best and most passionate. Working with prompts, exercises, and lessons, it didn’t take long for our green journals to fill up.
We took a closer look at downtown Summit for inspiration. Lunch was spent outside eating in the park, and we wandered through the spiraling streets on a literary scavenger hunt. It was fascinating to re-experience a place through the meticulous eye of a writer. Whether it was eavesdropping on a conversation or invoking childhood memories in a toy shop, ideas jumped from the street to the page.
A mid-week trip to the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown provided an environment crammed with inspiration. Sprawling gardens in infinite shades of green covered a landscape, peppered with fountains, flowers, and fairy houses. We unveiled narratives from the white mansion: tales of kings and queens, romances and mysteries. We walked a stone labyrinth, sprawled on the ground to write, and smiled throughout the day.
The program’s chemistry could not have been more ideal. As we writers put the “intense” in “intensive,” friendships evolved over the span of a week. We all agreed that being part of this community of shared interests made our writing all the better.
The week concluded with a reading celebrating each writer’s work with their families and peers. Everyone parted at the end surging with ideas and inspiration. It’s amazing to see how we can flourish in an environment that encourages exploration and innovation.