CORNER BROOK — Sometimes, Magie Dominic's writing workshops take unexpected turns that do not involve writing at all.
The Corner Brook native, who has not been home since a family visit 25 years ago, is a successful writer now living in New York, who teaches creative writing with a particular focus on autobiographical writing.
As a member of The League of Canadian Poets, Dominic travels to a Canadian city each year to conduct workshops and readings. This year, she has chosen to come home to Corner Brook to do that, making the workshops at the Corner Brook Public Library part of her visit home for her high school reunion.
The workshops involve Dominic guiding people to begin writing about what's important to them and their life. There have been times when the workshops have turned into therapeutic chats for some of her participants.
For instance, one workshop she did was at a shelter for at-risk youth. There was one aboriginal teen listening intently, but who refused to write one single word.
At the end of the session, she presented the participants with a pen and a notebook. Then it dawned on her that this boy's culture involved the tradition of oral storytelling.
When she told him the pen and paper were just symbols, the ice between them broke and the boy began telling her stories from his life experience.
"That kid had such an impact on me and I think I had an impact on him because he told me his story," said Dominic. "Not all of my workshops are that dramatic, but you never know. Sometimes, you just have to give people the tools to work with."
A normal workshop entails Dominic asking participants if they are working on something or if there is something blocking them from writing. She then introduces some techniques to get their minds to focus and their writing to flow more freely.
Writing about one's life is not something accomplished in a single workshop, but Dominic said it is always "an awesome subject" to get started on.
"Sometimes, people feel they don't have something worth saying, which is totally wrong because everyone has a story," she said.
The workshop is broken into two parts, with the first being held at the library today from 3 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. Participants will then have until the second 90-minute session Friday at 3 p.m. to work on their journal.
Anyone who wants to will have a chance to voluntarily read their writing during the Friday session, and have it discussed by other participants.
On Thursday from 7 p.m. - 8:15 p.m., Dominic will be reading from some of her new and more recent work at the library.