Workshop: Capturing Moments in Time – Creative Non-Fiction

by Elan Carson, WriteGirl volunteer

The sky was gleaming silver, coaxing us to be on the lookout for rain. This was not enough to dampen our spirits though, or put our pens on pause as we explored the Huntington’s Brody Botanical Gardens.

We had 104 WriteGirl mentees and 73 volunteers spend six hours learning how to craft creative non-fiction pieces evocative of one thing: the truth. With help from prompts (i.e. Describe your mood using weather as a metaphor), the beautiful grounds of The Huntington, and saccharine hot chocolate to keep us warm, our muse became anything we wanted to “collect” and store in our journals.

Author of “The Pathway to Creativity” and prolific guest speaker Charity Hume helped us on this mission teaching us how to “Zoom In,” to render every spotted detail into a piece rich with sensory details. Even something as simple as a grain of sand can be spectacular up close, once you simply take the time to look.

WriteGirl founder Keren Taylor challenged us to question who we are, using nature as a mirror. Were we the bold, beautiful tree ready to captivate or the plant riddled with thorns only letting select people into our lives?

Kirsten Giles endowed us with the wisdom to let go and simply write, to lose ourselves in the moment only finding our way back when absolutely necessary–such as for lunch time.

After our lesson, each girl with mentor ventured to the American Art Museum, as well as Brody Botanical Center ready to put into practice what we had learned. The soft swishes and flicks of journal pages fluttering throughout the day proved that we were successful on our journey. Whether inspired by a painting with billowy brush strokes or a Venus fly trap, what we documented somehow became ours.

As the day came to a close, we were left with the one irrepressible thought: although we can’t stop time, we can capture it and somehow that is just as beautiful.