The Great Roman Write-In (When in Rome, We WROTE.)

We gathered this summer at The Labyrinth of Rome, Georgia, to recharge our creativity. At least half of the attendees drove several (or more) hours to sit outside and write and reflect. There was Louisiana-style humidity; thunderstorms threatening; and the swatting of mosquitoes and ants. There was also cicada song and sirens and a pair of circling hawks calling out to each other, high above our terra firma. 

Writers responded to prompts designed to evoke humor, imagination, and personal contemplation. Then it was time for the best part: those who were brave enough would stand and read from something they wrote that day.

They shared gut wrenching memories, their hands shaking as they spoke; they concocted hilarious scenarios and dialogue; and they modeled for those not yet ready to stand in their story. All of it was beautiful.

On the center stone of the labyrinth was a cairn, a tower of carefully stacked rocks. Being a good Celt, I dared not disturb it. I know that cairns can be made for sacred purposes. But the fellow who brought the drone asked me to stand on the center stone for the “filming,” and I acquiesced after several other folks removed the rocks. 

In the end, I figured it would be alright, as our purpose there was just as sacred.

A 14-Year-Old’s Account of The Great Roman Write-In (you will LOVE this…)

READ THESE PRICELESS IMPRESSIONS from 14-year-old Sophia Sangha on her experience at The Great Roman Write-In.

As I woke up at 6:30 am, I was worried that I had missed the workshop since the sun was shining like it was 10 am. I stood in front of the mirror and kept telling myself “Sophia, don’t you go there and make a fool of yourself,” as I picked out a nice top with shorts, professional but also me at the same time. As we drove in, I asked my mom “where are we going,” and “ what does this place look like,” because I had never been to Rome, Georgia. I was worried because when we got closer to the Labyrinth, it was very woodsy and the temperature kept rising. I hopped down from the car and saw the grass filled stair and the road, and was pretty sure we were in the wrong place, whether intentional or not.

However, when we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by the eclectic mix of people and the captivating cobblestone maze. I started to sit on my towel and whispered to myself “god you know hair plus humidity does not work.” Once I took a seat, Mrs. Lauretta Hannon came over and introduced herself. I definitely pictured her differently, more like my strict english teacher, but she pleasantly surprised me with her jokes that proved better than my Dad’s. Mrs. Hannon handed everyone an envelope that contained prompts and a picture. The prompts were cleverly constructed as they all took a different point of view, whether it was church comedy, profound thinking, or analyzing a picture, every prompt required a different approach. Mrs. Hannon acknowledged that this was a safe space to grow our thoughts and bring our writing close to our flame, whatever that meant.

As Mrs. Hannon explained that we had “fifteen minutes for this first prompt,” my inner voice said “look Sophia, everyone else’s pens are moving at the speed of light while you can’t think of one thing to write about.” I prayed that the prompts would get easier so that I would gain some confidence, but I realized it was not that the prompts needed to get easier as much as I needed to write what I know. Despite what I first believed, writing is never about finding the right answer, but writing that comes from your heart and mind, also known as “writing from your flame,” as Mrs. Hannon first mentioned.

As the workshop came to a close, we listened to other authors share what they had written, and I was shocked. I had written answers to the prompts, but others had taken much different approaches, which led me to think of different ways to write. I got in the car to make the trip back home and I was thinking about how to describe what I had learned about from the experience and I said to my mom “I now know that it is okay for my style to be different because there is no right answer.”