I’ve been wondering why it’s taken me so long to tell you about a book I’ve fallen in love with and the woman who wrote it. All I can come up with is that I think so highly of this woman and her work, I couldn’t figure out how to say everything I want to say in three hundred or so words.
But I’m done procrastinating, so here goes.
The Woman is Pat Schneider
Pat Schneider, is a poet, an author, a teacher, a humanitarian and the founder of Amherst Writers and Artists;
“an international community of writing workshop leaders committed to the belief that a writer is someone who writes and that every writer has a unique voice.” – Amherst Writers
AWA is an extension of Schnieder’s philosophy as laid out in her seminal book, Writing Alone and with Others, which I devoured right before I attended a weeklong writing seminar led by Schneider.
Here are the organization’s Five Essential Affirmations
- Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
- Everyone is born with creative genius
- Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
- The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
- A writer is someone who writes.
Although I’m not yet a trained AWA instructor, these affirmations have influenced how I teach my own community creative writing group.
The Book is How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice
In her journal, updated as she began writing How the Light Gets In, Schneider tells us,
This time I want to find my way, explore my way, take my time. I want more than I have ever asked of myself before. Maybe it requires a silence and a centering that I have not yet—in my whole life really—given myself.
This time, she continues, she’s not after poems and she’s not out to teach. This time, she wants to go for “the big one, the presence—the Presence—the mystery, the Beloved.”
When I read that, I was hooked.
I’m still reading, still pondering, still treasuring the seventeen chapters that reflect on themes like fear, forgiving, changing the world, the body, death, freedom and joy, as influenced by Schneider’s life.
Pat Schneider inspires me and gives me the courage to believe I can write and that I have important things to say. When you read this book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.