Blog

Love, Loss & Everything In-Between: My Interview Experience

By Bethaney Clarke

This past summer, we had the honor of working with a group of talented teens as part of our Teen Internship Program. Two dozen teens volunteered their time assisting in our summer camps or interviewing and documenting the stories of Red Bank seniors and other notable citizens for “The Interview Project.” I loved every minute I spent with these incredible teens―training them and learning about them as writers, watching them teach lessons or coach the younger students in our summer camps, and seeing them present their interviewees at our celebration and speak about their experiences. This is such a special program that we offer and I wanted to offer a teen’s perspective, so I asked Bethaney to write about how “The Interview Project” impacted her.
–Jennifer Chauhan, Executive Director

Imagine you’re 85-years-old and no one has ever asked you to sit down and talk about your life experiences. Think of all of the things you’re dying to say and the things in life you’ve never stopped to consider, to remember, or to cherish. Think about the opportunity to make a connection with someone. Laughing, reflecting, crying, and smiling. Imagine the flood of thoughts and memories and emotions. How you can’t stop yourself from spontaneously changing from subject to subject because you haven’t touched these places in your life in so long and they’re all just rushing out of you. Read more

Fight for your Write: Girl Power

By Lisa Hartsgrove

They didn’t know what to expect. Neither did I. What might come out of a “girls only” writing group? Their experiences were all bound to be very different from one another; what was too sensitive a topic? Is there such a thing? How would I handle it? How would they? Read more

The College Essay: What an Application Reader Has to Say

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By Jennifer Chauhan

One of my favorite jobs at Project Write Now is coaching the college essay. It’s a moment when seniors can take a break from the frenzy of selecting colleges, studying for the SATs, and boosting their grades, and reflect on what has led them to where they are and who they’ve become.

For many this doesn’t come easy. The last time they wrote a personal reflective piece was back in middle school. There is also so much pressure to pick the perfect topic and then write their story in a “compelling” way that makes them “stand out”―words often used by college admissions officers when describing what they are looking for.

At Project Write Now, we encourage starting early, giving students plenty of time to sift through their experiences and write several drafts. Most important, it gives them time to rediscover or strengthen their voice. Read more

Sending Them Off With Something More

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By Jennifer Chauhan

Recently Allison Tevald and I said good-bye (for now) to a special group of young writers. They were the first class to welcome us at Red Bank Middle School in January 2015, and last week we watched them walk proudly into their school’s auditorium, donning red and white gowns, to receive their diplomas. (Yes, we teared up!)

When we started offering weekly writing workshops to students in Red Bank Middle School’s AVID program, we didn’t know what to expect. We knew we wanted to give students a safe place and the freedom to write creatively. But so much more has happened in the year and a half we’ve been together. Read more

Supporters of PWN Experience PWN

Beth Herbruck introduces executive director Jennifer Chauhan and program director Allison Tevald for the writing portion of the evening.

Saturday, June 18, Beth Herbruck arranged a Good Folk Supper Club dinner that started in our studio at Project Write Now. We facilitated a writing activity, people shared their written memories, and then they mingled before heading to the surprise dinner location: West Elm! Diners made their way down the block and enjoyed courses invented and prepared by personal chef Marcy Ragan.

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What a Teacher Discovers in Her Summer Writing Camps

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By Samantha Strauss

Last year was our first summer of writing camps at Project Write Now. I must say that at first I was skeptical. All of my classes at the studio had been an hour or an hour and a half long. How would I keep these young children entertained for three hours in one small room? I trepidatiously asked our fearless leader Jennifer, “Are you sure these camps should be three hours?” hoping she didn’t hear the terror in my voice. Jennifer is the eternal optimist, and she has supreme faith in me. “It’ll be great!” she said, not having to fake her confidence. All right, here goes nothing, I thought. Read more

The Healing Power of Writing

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By Gay Norton Edelman

Writing was always going to be part of my life. An avid independent reader since second grade, I created my first book around the same time, a collection of elephant jokes. (How can you tell there’s an elephant in your apple tree? By the red polish on her toenails.) That was just for fun.

When I hit adulthood, writing took on life-saving power for healing past traumas and navigating present trials. In my 30s, when the ugly bits from my childhood were screaming for attention, it was all about rip-out-your-guts poetry. The only place I shared it was at a small counseling center art show. It was so raw it carried a “Mature Eyes Only” warning. Beyond the show, I didn’t let others see it. I didn’t need to. I wrote it for me. Read more

Honoring My Mom

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By Jennifer Chauhan

Since my mom passed away in September 2007, I’ve been documenting my grief in short essays written every few years around Mother’s Day. It started with “Missing My Mom” and then “Remembering My Mom.” This year I’d like to write about honoring her.

There is tremendous healing that comes from writing and sharing our life stories―especially the painful ones, those born of loss, separation, heartache, disappointment. I’ve witnessed this curative transformation in others for the past year and a half in my memoir classes.The outpouring and sifting through memories. The splitting open (as Natalie Goldberg proscribes) to speak from a point of truth. The release, often with tears, as stories are shared and held by others.

When my mom died my grief was so raw, so excruciating all I could do was scribble my pain―flashes of memory of hospice, questions about why she had to go, why now, when I wasn’t ready―into the pages of a notebook I kept tucked in the console of my car. I would pull it out during the few quiet moments I had before picking up kids from school, soccer, dance. Yet in those pages, my healing began. Read more

Voices of the In-Between

Lisa continues the practice of creating art and decorating the walls of her home.

Lisa continues the practice of creating art and decorating the walls of her home.

By Lisa Hartsgrove

I remember being 13 like it was just yesterday. It was the hardest year of my life. Hormones at their highest. Starting a new school. Constantly judging my self-worth against others. My parents not listening to me, or at least feeling that way. Not quite an adult; not quite a kid. Like many 13-year-olds, I thought I was lost. I thought I was alone.
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Why I’m Signing My Children Up for Summer Writing Camps

By Allison Tevald

My son has never liked sitting quietly and coloring or painting. The closest he came to working his fine-motor skills―which his pre-K teachers said were lacking―was making his toy trains and cars go vrooom. I wasn’t concerned. He’s clearly bright. He notices periphery details even while engrossed in pretend play of crash-burning airplanes. He articulates his feelings well, and has an insane memory.

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