In 2018, WGI conducted two writing workshops at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, a maximum security state prison in Pendleton, Indiana that houses 2,000 inmates. The first took place in April, when 3 teams of mentors worked with a total of 18 writers. The second workshop took place in September, 2018.
The workshops followed our model: 2 days of writing exercises and sharing, with a catered lunch each day. The only real difference was that the participants didn’t have laptops. At Pendleton, the sense of unity and determination was palpable, with many participants writing about their life experiences and choices and their dreams for the future. There were also genre pieces—from childhood memoir, to horror, to outright comedy. Between the two WGI anchor workshops, participants formed their own writing group, which continues to meet regularly.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAYING
“I knew that reading and writing were superpowers that everyone had the ability to cultivate . However the concept of authorship and professional writing was intangible to me. It was something that I thought was beyond my abilities to be a legitimate part of. I am (now) empowered and motivated. I have been given an opportunity to feel worthy of sharing my most inner thoughts and emotions. Writing and speaking have power. By putting our words out into the world something special occurs – they gain weight like gravity and mass – they become real. (The workshop) made me realize that I am the author of my own life in a way that is more than just living it. I found out that writing, although it is work – is also fun and liberating. It’s freedom in a place where (freedom) is in short supply. ” – Larry, Participant
“It let me know that it is us who limits ourselves. We can do anything wept our minds to. With a little help from our mentors, we gain(ed) the skills we need to be prolific writers. You showed you cared by coming into a hopeless place and sowing hope. – DeVonne, Participant
“I have since started a weekly workshop for writers here at Pendleton and have been inspired to improve my skill set and write more in general. “- Nathan, participant.
“I was able to expand my writing and creativity. This experience was amazing, new and exciting, The opportunity was priceless. I learned to open up to others – and keep an open mind. ” – Thomas, Participant
“Amazing experience. I wrote a little, discussed a lot and pushed past what I thought my limits were. This was a magnificent experience.” – Cory – Participant