Sunday, January 14, 2018

Two reviews of Brian Henry's Writing Personal Stories course

Everyone has a story, but one must find the right teacher
Brian Henry teaches with intelligent gentleness. He draws his students forward, allowing room for discussion while giving concrete lessons in writing each week. It is this balance between interactive class discussion and constructive teaching that makes Brian's Personal Stories course a must. 
Everyone has a story, but one must find the right teacher to inspire, motivate, and give them the foundational tools.  This course offers all of this, and it provides a supportive environment in which to both learn and to write.  Writing Your Life is transformative, engaging, and useful for writers at all stages.
~ Aime Wren

It’s the older, deeper memories that require a little coaching
My vision when I took this workshop was to create a collection of stories for each of my children, the Mom version of how things really happened. The eight weeks spent in the course not only got the ball rolling but inspired so much more than I could have imagined.
Brian's techniques brought out stories that had been locked away for years.  With my memory vault dusted off, I committed to writing every day, story after story pouring out of me.  Some were expressed in only a couple of paragraphs; others took pages to unfold.  Some I didn't want to remember but I honoured them as they surfaced, sorting them out on paper and revising as necessary before I printed them for posterity or returned them to the archives, forgiving them their painful edges.
Through my collection of  stories with underlying themes of  courage, choices, laughter, forgiveness and grace, I began to make  interesting  connections, becoming increasingly aware of how these events I was writing about defined my way of thinking, my response to challenges, and how I communicate, play and love.

I wrote  a story to my daughter about how I was overwhelmed the first time  I saw her beautiful little face  and how scared I was when I discovered she didn't come with an owner’s manual.   I begged her forgiveness for being my practice child. 
I wrote about the day I caught my nine-year-old son standing with the fridge door open, squirting canned whipped cream into his mouth. 
I pushed  him against the door saying, “You want whipped cream buddy, I'll give you whipped cream,” squirting him down with the whole can, both of us sliding in a puddle of slippery cream mixed with tears of laughter on the kitchen floor.   
These younger memories sitting on the surface of my time line were clearer and easier to write about. It's the older, deeper ones that required a little help in bringing them to the surface. 
Guided by Brian to draw a house I lived in when I was seven years old brought up a 55-year-old memory of my dog Boots giving birth in our laundry room to her first litter of five speckled puppies.  The delight and excitement of that experience perhaps was the beginning of my wanting a large family.  
Brian skillfully creates a safe environment as he guides, encourages, suggests and questions and then squiggle-edits your pages with enthusiastic check marks, happy faces and forgotten commas.   It's an amazing opportunity to let your creativity express itself through the triad of memories, ink and paper while having your own personal editor watching your back.    
The highlight for me was listening to all the incredible stories. It's a most intimate exchange to hear an author read their story in person. Both trust and responsibility are involved.  I learned from Brian's example to be generous with my praise and kind with my critique.
I know I'm richer for this experience and would encourage anyone who wishes to put their stories on   paper to let Brian guide you through the process.   You'll have a lot of fun and meet some wonderful people on the way.
~ Sharon De Rose

Brian has a Writing Personal Stories course coming up on Friday afternoons starting April 13, 2018, in Toronto (see here) and one-day Writing Your Life workshops on Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Burlington (see here) and Saturday, June 23, in Mississauga (see here).
If you're looking at this posting after these dates, see details of current upcoming Writing Personal Stories courses and one day Writing Your Life workshops here (and scroll down).
Read reviews of other courses, workshops, and writing retreats  here ~ just scroll down.
See Brian’s current complete schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


  1. Wow, I would love to take a course like that! Too bad I am so far away...

  2. These are awesome reviews, and they truly resonate with me! Brian is an awesome instructor, he imparts courage and confidence in his students; and we all have fun learning how to write better!

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