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Writing a Wrong

February 24, 2019 GMT

By Cheryl A. Cuddahy

Everyone is a storyteller. We all have stories worth telling. Unfortunately, many older adults were not encouraged to tell their stories in writing when they were in school.

“Although schools back in the day did a good job of teaching expository writing and prescriptive grammar, narrative writing was not a valued part of the curriculum,” says Mariam Karis Cronin, a proud native of Fitchburg. “As a result, many adults have shied away from expressive writing and have, therefore, missed the opportunity to discover what they have to say.”

The Fitchburg Senior Center and Mariam want to help elders with the opportunity to write and will host a free four-week series entitled “Montachusett Memories: Responding to the Short Works of Robert Cormier.”

Classes will be held Mondays, March 4, 11, 18 and 25, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, at Fitchburg Senior Center, 14 Wallace Ave.

Before Cormer, a Leominster native, received worldwide acclaim for his novel “The Chocolate War,” he worked as an editor and columnist at the Fitchburg Sentinel. He also published several essays and short stories in periodicals ranging from Woman’s Day to The Saturday Evening Post.

“By reading and discussing these short works, participants in this class will have the pleasure of revisiting familiar people and places from the past,” Mariam says. “Participants will also be given the opportunity to use Cormier’s texts as inspiration for their own writing.”

The main goal of this class is to create a warm and supportive atmosphere where a group of lifelong learners will discover or hone their own authorial voices through the work of a native son.

“Writing can be an inexpensive and rewarding hobby,” Mariam says. “Although an individual writer needs alone time to explore ideas on paper, a writing workshop will develop a community of writers who will offer support, guidance and camaraderie to each other.”

Mariam, herself a “senior citizen,” retired from Lunenburg Public Schools in 2007 after teaching English for more than 40 years. More recently, she retired from various part-time positions at Sizer Charter School.

During her teaching career, she specialized in the teaching of writing. She attended three summer institutes developed by the National Writing Project, served as a judge for the Cormier Writing Competition, sponsored by Fitchburg State University, and published two articles in The English Journal, a publication of the National Council of the Teachers of English.

“While some writers will have their work published for a wider audience, all writers in a writing workshop will have their voices heard,” Mariam says proudly. “At the end of this class, it is hoped that seniors will dare to call themselves writers, and that the experience will be so validating and rewarding that they will ask for more writing workshops.”

Fitchburg Senior Center’s mission is simple -- to identify and meet the needs of our elder population in the community.

“Our Senior Center provides information and referral programs on health and wellness, daily meals and so much more,” says Joan Goodwin, executive director of the center.

“We provide outreach to hundreds of elders through support with SNAP applications, Shine counseling, our food distribution twice a week and the food pantry,” she adds. Our daily meal site, through MOC, offers elders a delicious, nutritious meal and socialization with their peers. Our building is a community focal point for many city-sponsored events, benefiting the community.

“We are a very important piece of support to our seniors and veterans in Fitchburg.”

Space is limited. For more information, or to register, call 978-829-1790.

Got a column subject or item for Community Conversations? Email ccuddahy @sentinelandenterprise. Read her blog at blogs. sentinelandenterprise.com/communityconversations .