23 February, 2013

Wrap-up on the first Tohoku Writer's Workshop

I'm on such a high. Writer's workshop went really well and everyone was so encouraging.

I didn't make any serious blunders, though I'm still wondering how we managed to pick a restaurant for Thursday night dinner that was 11km away from our lodging and in the middle of city of Sendai. Nonetheless it was a pleasant restaurant and not too expensive.
View from the window of the meeting room we used.

What most encouraged me was the general feeling of participants that these workshops are a good thing and that we should continue to hold them. Also the notion that we're building momentum here, that this "baby" of mine is going to get bigger and more popular!

It is a strange thing starting up something like this—an event that isn't a one-time thing. I've done it mostly on my own, with sideline support from my editing boss. And I've wondered, at times, if it is worth the effort. It certainly has stretched me in numerous ways.

Other encouraging things:

  1. God provided great travel companions for my journey and someone to share the driving. We were together for 10 hours, and we rarely lacked for good conversation.
  2. One of my travelling companions is an editing team member and a friend. I've only just begun to realise how good a friendship has developed between us. Knowing that is even more precious to me than the great working relationship that we have.
  3. That same friend/colleague and I worked well together (she was unofficially helping teach). She enjoyed the workshop and is keen to help out as she can in the future with workshops.
  4. Seeing one of the participants who didn't classify himself as a writer join us and soak up the teaching on basic good writing principles. He begged me for more as often as he could.
  5. The weather, though cold, didn't present us with snow to drive through. Thank you God!
  6. My premise in organising these workshops is to keep them simple and affordable. In this case, it was hard work to do the latter, especially as I had no one local to help. However in the end I managed to put together a workshop that cost under 6,000 yen (about AUD$60) for two nights and two days, including a restaurant meal (participants supplied a couple of their own meals). That is pretty amazing for the expensive land of Japan, and fairly important when your target audience is missionaries.

Things I learnt:

  1. I can teach about writing. I can.
  2. I can lead. I can.
  3. Next time I should ask one of the participants to take care of hot water, coffee and snacks.
  4. Don't always believe the nice Information lady at the express rest stop who tells you that snow chains will be necessary up ahead.
  5. I can organise events, even if it stresses me out.
  6. Future events shouldn't be held up north in the winter.

We drove left the workshop at 4pm and didn't get home until 9.30pm. It was a long drive, though thankfully the roads weren't congested. To help with weariness I drank a rare coffee at dinner time, knowing it would probably keep me up late. I didn't anticipate that my mind would still be racing at 3.30am! I did manage to sleep for a few hours before that, but woke up before 3. I eventually drifted off again, but I awoke feeling as though I could have had a better sleep.

I'm not totally convinced it was the caffeine, I think the high of the workshop, the great conversation on the road home, and several ideas for future workshops can share some of the blame. Nonetheless, no caffeine has crossed my lips today and I'm hoping for a good long sleep tonight.


Gary and Barbara said...

Super, Wendy! I knew you'd do great without me there!

Sarah said...

Yay! So encouraging to hear how God has used you outside your comfort zone.