By Deborah Burke Henderson, Contributing Writer
SUDBURY – Students of all ages who take creative writing with Pamela S. Wight quickly realize her classes are a safe zone. They come to experience a deep level of trust and bonding with fellow aspiring writers.
“I instruct everyone to create a dome of privacy around themselves,” the author and blogger said. “We agree to never discuss anyone else’s writing outside the group. This establishes trust and encourages people to connect with themselves and one another.”
Wight’s strategies work. People drawn to her class, whether or not they’ve written before, whether or not they struggle with her ten rules of writing, undergo an unparalleled experience – discovering inner truths.
Rule #1: write without thinking
After an initial brief lesson regarding metaphor or simile, character or plot construction, Wight instructs her students to write, not think, when given a five- or ten-minute prompt.
“Don’t stop your pen,” Wight advises, “just keep writing whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about grammar or word choice and don’t listen to the editor in your mind. Be honest and vulnerable.”
Wight underscores writing is about feeling, and the more one writes, the more one reveals honesty. Then real stories emerge.
“In my 25 years of teaching, I’ve never seen anyone come away with bad feelings about themselves. People get stronger knowing what’s inside and why. It’s simply beautiful,” she added.
From the start, Wight focuses on “I” or first-person nonfiction work, typically written in present tense. She knows from experience one cannot develop a good fictional character and bring that character alive until writing about oneself honestly, expressing one’s own emotions and inner conflicts.
Students have ranged in age from 18 to 90. She finds her classes most valuable for the mature individual, especially someone who has never made time to stop and really look inside themselves.
“The older one gets, the more one has to let go,” she said. “I’ve had many people tell me this experience has opened their lives.”
Wight sees each participant “open up like a flower,” as they let their imaginations come forward.
“Creative writing is about showing your soul,” she added. “This is a gift each person has given him or herself. I just offer a safe place for exploration.”
Prolific book author and blogger
Wight calls Sudbury home, although she has spent time living in the San Francisco area where she also teaches creative writing.
“I go back to Tiburon occasionally,” Wight said, “and offer a day or evening class for those students who continue to enjoy working with me.”
Locally, she teaches through Concord-Carlisle Adult and Community Education, Lincoln-Sudbury Adult Education, and Keefe at Night Continuing Education. During the pandemic, she experimented with online teaching by assigning two writing prompts per week and instructing participants to email their stories to the group. No one is a critic in Wight’s classes. Everyone provides positive comments with an eye toward encouraging one another.
“People learned they had the discipline to write at home alone. This was a surprise for them and me,” Wight noted with a smile.
Wight prefers to teach in person. Since April, her classes have been held in a church parking lot, with participants physically distanced and wearing masks.
“We agree to meet if it’s not below 48 degrees, snowing, or raining,” she added. “All my students have welcomed the opportunity.”
Wight writes with creative aplomb for children and adults. She is the published author of two books on romantic suspense: The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires, and two illustrated children’s books: Birds of Paradise and Molly Finds Her Purr. She has now added flash memoir to her repertoire with Flashes of Life: True Tales of the Extraordinary Ordinary published in June by Borgo Publishing available at borgopublishing.com and also Amazon.
Wight pens a weekly blog called Roughwighting (roughwighting.net) and some of this content is reflected in her newest work.
Photos/Courtesy of Pamela S. Wight