A FEW WEEKS AGO – by France Theriault

A few weeks ago, I started to sit on my writer’s chair on Friday afternoon and virtually met other Traumatic Brain Injury writers. Together we eagerly discovered the amazing potential of this creative writing workshop led by The Toronto Writers Collective.

The Toronto Writers Collective is a non-profit organization that provides free ongoing creative workshops in Toronto’s underserved community.

Their mission is to inspire voice and empower the unheard. Their workshops offer a safe, accessible and inclusive space for participants to write and share their stories.

They believe everyone is a writer, regardless of prior writing experience and formal education. Yes, yes and yes. I personally started to write regularly in my journal after having a concussion in 2013 and found it easier to express my emotions, my turmoil or my unspoken words on paper. Later, as my confidence as a novice writer expanded, I started writing blogs and I decided to passionately share my Acquired Brain Injury journey on Instagram to leave traces of this unique healing process I was experiencing.

Through encouragement and support people grow as writers it is believed. Don’t expect the co-facilitators to correct your syntax, your grammar or give you advice on how to enhance your prose. You will mainly receive what stands out in your writing, what remains in the mind of your listener or what impression your piece left after you voluntarily shared your words.

Toronto Writers Collective believes in the unique creative genius of every voice. Every week, I am fascinated by the stories each participant brings to their audience. The narrators are vulnerable, funny, raw, poetic, eclectic and their prose acts as the best healing remedy. I see myself in them, you hear me when I openly unveil my heart and, together, we feel the emotional energy the words carry to our hungry hearts and eager creative minds. In the unique creative genius of every voice, we recognize ourselves in each person’s shared humanity.

J’accepte la grande aventure d’être moi.
I accept the great adventure of being me.
Simone de Beauvoir

Each person’s experience provides a wealth of inspiration as a writer and an artist. Over the week we have been listening with enthusiasm and patiently awaiting the protagonists to share their creative genius. We lightheartedly laugh; we occasionally hold our breath we applaud each other and discuss our writing and we feel the poignant emotions that leave a trail even after the voice has subsided.  

Their next belief is creating a non-judgmental, open and respectful community where all writers support and deeply listen to each other, take risks and grow as writers. Listening is an important part this non-profit organization promotes. Paying attention, being impeccable with your words when you share your observations, not addressing the writer personally but instead using words like the narrator, the protagonist, the voice or the piece is a wonderful way to address the creative mind behind their masterpiece. 

Each person, through writing, can shape and influence the lives of others. After all, creativity is a path for the brave; and brave we have been traveling new beginnings after new beginnings, editing our lives and upgrading our beliefs as we learn to live beyond the fear of the unknown as Traumatic Brain Injury Bloomers.

We can achieve social change by offering opportunity and encouragement for all writers, it is believed. Our voices, our experiences, our losses, our gains, our efforts, our victories and our silver-linings are priceless tributes that need to be heard outside our circle. Our inspirational words can support others to continue – even in adversity, times of loneliness and helplessness.

Regardless of race, ethnicity, class, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability, our voice matters and our words matter as well.

I am delighted and so grateful to be part of this extraordinary experience offered by Mind Forward Brain Injury Services. Creative living is nourishing each one of us and I am beyond happy to have added new colourful threads as a writer to the tapestry of the beautiful life I am co-creating.

Painting by France Theriault