What brought me to the Green Windows workshops?
For the most part, it was a desire to resuscitate my long-dormant creative writer identity. My partner Karen has been attending, and as she’s always liked the all-too-infrequent poems and prose I wrote for her, she thought that this workshop might be a good fit for me. As it turned out, she was absolutely correct.
The supportive atmosphere is a shining contrast to a creative writing class I once took back in college. I admit then when I took the class at age 20, I was hardly rife with real-world experiences, and I ultimately felt that my creative flow was stifled by a lack of good subject material and a middling imagination. Nevertheless, the stories I read to the class inevitably resulted in negative reactions from my classmates. My literary soul melted before their no-holds-barred approach to criticism disguised as critique.
The teacher was not much more supportive, spending most of her analyses discussing what did not work in my stories than what did – if anything. She happened to be a published novelist. One day, I obtained a copy of one of her novels. I have a vivid memory of settling down on my dormitory bed and opening her book with great anticipation. I couldn’t even finish it. The prose was clumsy, the characters shallow and underdeveloped, the dialogue stilted and dull. One-third of the way in, I had had enough and tossed it aside permanently. How, I asked myself, could any publisher even touch that manuscript without wearing rubber gloves?
But perhaps my standards were too high. During that same semester, I was enrolled in a class devoted to the 20th Century American novel. I was reading Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow… Was I spoiled? No. Did my teacher’s book just seem poor at a time I was reading one literary giant after another every day? I’d have to say yes. Comparatively or not, sometimes bad writing is just bad writing.
Unfortunately, her class killed my desire to continue to develop as a writer. This is why I thank God for Green Windows. This is the place to go for writers trying to figure things out and expanding their creative frontiers. I'm grateful to everyone involved in making Green Windows happen.
The piece, below, was written in a Green Windows workshop, inspired by a piece of music.
by Chris Folger
A stag bows behind his front leg, then rises, stretching himself toward the clouds. He takes several steps in the direction of the rocky brook, his legs caressing the forest floor in beatific syncopation. His eyes shine with the intelligence of the cosmos. He is Nature’s highest form of evolution.
His stride seamlessly flows into a graceful gait; pebbles kick up out of his way with all due deference and gratitude. His head darts in multiple directions, keenly spying on his world; his instincts ever on the alert for the unexpected.
He arrives at the brook. He leans down toward the drink, then stops. Is he gazing at his reflection, as much in awe of his majesty as are all other creatures? Even the reeds piercing the surface of the water bend in his direction. Are they begging him to do them the honor of feasting on them?
Now he touches his lips to the brook and begins to drink. The reeds curl away, rejected. His antlers, spiraling high from his brow, scrape tracks in the water, as if they too are thirsty.
The stag rises, satisfied. He turns and sees his mate. She approaches and they touch shoulders. They inhale the commingled fragrance of their breath