Friday, January 13, 2012

Synchronicity in Writing Workshops

I’ve noticed that there is a curious synchronicity in writing groups or workshops, where on any given day the works that people bring in often seem to resonate with one another, or overlap in eerie ways. At the last meeting of the poetry group I’m part of, Thirteen Ways, the first person read a sonnet about a prisoner on death row who was executed. The next person brought in a prose poem about working in an office, but using the metaphor of a prisoner at a Devil’s-Island-like penitentiary. Another person read a poem about sharecroppers in the South in the 1950s, and the last poem spoke about a shanty in the country. It was almost as if variations of the same mind had written these.

The only poem that didn’t obviously fit was my own, which was about kissing, but then half my poems are about kissing, so I’m not counting that.

What to make of these surprising resonances that always occur in writing workshops? The great French poet Charles Baudelaire, usually a hard-edged, cynical guy, wrote in one of his most mystical poems, “Correspondences,”

Like long echoes mixing in the distance
Into a tenebrious and deep unity,
Vast as the night, as brightness,
Scents, colors, and sounds resonate.

That’s also true in the themes and images that individuals bring to a writing workshop. Does this mean we are all part of a Jungian collective unconscious goo that squishes together at our edges? Maybe. I’m too much of an old school existentialist to sign on for that, but I have to say, it does give me pause when I see those correspondences in every single workshop and writing group I attend. If nothing else, it testifies to the fact that when we write, we are communicating at the deepest levels of consciousness, where hard individuality tends to melt into a more fluid state of mind. This synchronicity in workshops reminds me that writing is one of the ways that we connect with each other most profoundly.

Other recent posts about writing topics: 
How to Get Published
Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout
Putting Together a Book Manuscript
Working with a Writing Mentor
How to Deliver Your Message
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?
Why Write Poetry? 
Poetic Forms: IntroductionThe SonnetThe SestinaThe GhazalThe Tanka

Praise and Lament
How to Be an American Writer

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