Comments From Participants


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Workshop participants share information about themselves only through their writing. What is shared is completely determined by each participant. Workshop participants have ranged in age from 20 to early 80s. Their work backgrounds include nurse, restaurant server, physician, hairdresser, therapist, social worker, acupuncturist, musician, life spent in or working in prison, athlete, artist, crafts person, scientist, poet, bank teller, educator, real estate agent, bookkeeper, author, clergy person, nutritionist and exercise physiologist among others. They have come from various parts of the US, Denmark, Chile, Canada, India, Croatia, Korea, Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Armenia, Egypt, France and Germany. The comments below are identified only by date in respect of the privacy of the participants.


"I was just reading over what you wrote on the story I gave you. I was happily surprised to see only a few grammar mistakes. And not surprised by your kind comments. But, what a big change from the past grammar corrections. I have learned so much from you. I am grateful. Thank you." 2017

"Your classes are so wonderful and I may yet be back one of these days..." 2017

"I am sorry I can't be at the Writing Room Reunion & Reading this year. Thanks for facilitating this event for those who have shared with you and others. You are such a source of growth for so many. Blessings to you..." 2017

"Ellen thank you. How wonderful and instructive your comments are." 2017

"I was gathering stuff up for Star which includes my Star Is. writings note book and voila, there were two writings I had not copied in to my computer file of Star Is. writings. I typed them in and as I did so, felt so much gratitude over having the opportunity to be involved in your writing circles over the years." 2017

"Thank you so very much for your comments. This has been an all-around special day!" 2017

"Thank you again and again for making this safe, so creative space for so many of us!" 2017

"I can't tell you how many times I have thought of you, the group, and how important that was to me." 2017

"I am so looking forward to being in your writing class again. It's at the top of my list of the best things to do. I have missed seeing you and being part of the group." 2017

"The days go so fast now that I don't say 'I can't wait for .....' any more but I can't wait for writing class to start. It is the place in my life where some of the most meaningful sharing happens." 2017

"Wow...thank you, Ellen. That means a lot to me because it comes from you. I did look back at some of those early pieces. They need a lot of editing! My writing has definitely improved with your instruction and with practice! Thank you for offering the time and space for all of us." 2017

"I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with you. The setting you create is very open and comfortable and your sparks are really thoughtful. I appreciate your insights and critical feedback. I also really enjoy getting input from the talented, diverse group(s) and love listening to their work and their process. I hope to join again in the future. And write in the interim! The sparks are a treasure trove for me to draw from." 2017

"Ellen, you are a terrific instructor and I have learned so much in your class. You manage to bring out the best in us and then we find out that we can be even better!....Thank you so much for your kindness and specific recommendations for improvement." 2017

"Thank you, Ellen - I focused on myself and feel re-centered after just an hour in class." 2017 (Cornell student)

"Why is this only 7 weeks?" 2017 (Cornell student)

"Very powerful workshop, created a safe and intimate space from the start. Thank you for this. It really motivated me to do some more writing." 2017 (Cornell student)

"I liked sharing my thoughts and writing anything that came in my mind. I'd like more sessions, every week of the semester if possible. Ellen, you are awesome sauce." 2017 (Cornell student)

"I liked hearing others' stories, worries, perspectives, and sometimes, triumphs. Thank you for a great few weeks!" 2017 (Cornell student)

"I liked how it was not required for us to share our writing. We need a bigger room for everyone who wants to come to attend." 2017 (Cornell student)

"The workshop was led in a confident and open manner. I wish it were continuing next Monday." 2017 (Cornell student)

"I liked writing down my messy thoughts, and also I liked resonating with the thoughts of others expressed in their writing." 2017 (Cornell student)

"The sessions have helped me to reflect on, and give form to, some of my thoughts. I have also appreciated the opportunity to share some of my written thoughts in a non-judgmental setting. Lastly, thank you for the list of physician-authors you prepared for me." 2017 (Cornell student)

"....[thank you for] all that you do for people in need, helping stories to come about because of your support and providing a safe place to write it all down." 2017

"Thank you Ellen, your classes have helped me so much through the sessions I spent with you. The article you sent confirms that people need to write for better mental health. These days we need a diversion from the negative situation in our country. Take care and know you are doing so much for those who need to write!!" 2017

"Florida is just fine, but one of the things I miss about Ithaca is the writing class. I'm sure it's going well under your inspirational leadership." 2017

"Thank you so much for your insightful comment! Meant a lot to me!" 2017

"Thank you for creating a safe place for expressing my deepest thoughts. Looking forward to the next session." 2017

"So nice to know you all these years and to be part of your magical writing room." 2017

"It was a blessing finding your Writing Room last year." 2017

"I've learned a lot from you, and I'm glad we're keeping a connection. Many thanks." 2017

"I thoroughly enjoyed our Writing Room Reunion and Reading. I found my soul over-whelmed with the depth of stories and the poetry read in a warm welcoming environment. The food was amazing also." 2016

"You do such excellent work in guiding writers." 2016

"I'm so happy to be continuing on in the class!" 2016

"Being in WR has been so helpful for me, and I'm so grateful to have found you." 2016

"You are a really fast editor!" 2016

"Thanks so much for class today. I almost did not go because I felt kind of lost and out of sorts. Class really helped. Your spark was prefect. Your kindness, always present. Thank you, it made the difference for a better day." 2016

"Thank you so much for leading the Writing through the Rough Spots workshop at the library last week. You lead us seamlessly from learning about how writing is beneficial to our health to actually getting strangers to write and share with each other. You are a gifted and inspiring teacher." 2016

"Thank you for the several comments and suggestions on my last writing. I appreciate the suggestions and experienced the difference in the reading! Thank you again." 2016

"I am so excited. I was thinking [my agent] might drop me as a client and instead she praised me and extended our contract. None of this would have been possible without Writing through the Rough Spots, and all you have done for me by way of support and encouragement. " 2016

"And the last two sessions of the writing experience were very precious to me. I grew to love writing more than before. And got some clear vision of my past and my relationships. Thank you so much for this opportunity to look back and forward of my life!" 2016

"At the risk of being mushy and repetitive, I have got to say that you are uniquely talented for this role you have created for yourself. I am frequently in awe, as I watch your responses to each person in the class somewhat agape, and feel I have a lot to learn from how it looks when someone can step outside themselves to listen well, as you tenderly apply your compassion and specific knowledge of each person's writing in your loving words. Please, no need for any response except a nod of recognition at the observation that I am sure most or all of us share." 2016

"Your work is a gift to the community." 2016

"Ellen thank you. Your tightening suggestions are right on. I’m learning so much from you!" 2016

"I really enjoyed last night's class. I think we are a fun bunch. You create such a fun, safe and creative space for writers - Thank you!!" 2016

"I miss all the writing and sharing and learning. You have created a wonderful workshop. Obviously a large group of folks agree, and thus you have ongoing class participants. I hope to rejoin you in the fall." 2016

"Thanks for giving me a 'room to write in' during my years in Ithaca. You're the best thing about that town!!" 2015

"I’m editing the piece I wrote for class for a blog. It felt close, but a little off and unfinished. Since this is the time of year to talk about entering darkness, I wanted to make it work. Your edits are excellent and a gift to me. I feel relieved when I read them. Oh, that’s it! Without changing my words, you bring me closer to myself and what I want to say. You make me feel heard and revealed. Thank you for being supportive as I lumber around looking for what I want and need to say and how to say it." 2015

"Having the Writing Room opportunity has been a highlight of my return to this area. Some of the other facets are tougher, but the Writing Room, your welcome, and meeting the others in the class, have been all positive. So thank you." 2015

"I will be happy one day to join again, and am so grateful for your classes." 2015

"The Writing Room!!! How I wish I could blip across the 2500 miles and join you.... Like college and travel and friendships and falling in love, your writing room changed me ---for good and for good. Thank you, thank you." 2015

"Writing Room was a very moving experience this summer. I am so glad I was able to stay through all ten sessions, even though I missed a couple. Today also was an remarkable experience which demonstrated so beautifully how your method works. Thank you for the little scroll of commentaries about writing. I love having those. The dahlia and Queen Anne's lace are beautiful. I have little red dahlias growing too, but the ones I have are smaller than yours, more like little red balls. I love the one you gave us. And thank you for the pen. When I pick it up I am always glad it is from you and Writing Room." 2015

"Thank you for the last 5 weeks, which was the best "therapy" I could have had...Thank you for your guidance, encouragement and kind presence. I enjoyed being one of 6 writers in this little 5 week community." 2015

"I want to thank you again for a wonderful experience in the writing workshop. You have a gift of helping your aspiring writers illuminate their deepest thoughts. It was really refreshing to participate in that process with you. I wish I had been to more sessions. The women in our group have had riveting experiences to which your keen ear and eye bring clarity and focus." 2015

"I want to thank you again for a wonderful Fall semester of writing room .... Those 2 hours at your table were often my very best moments of my week. ( and this semester was a good semester ) and I left with wonderful memories written down in my secret personal folder.I do share some of the stories as gifts to my friends and daughter. The 'yellow dog story' was a success. I will certainly miss your winter classes at lot. I am going to try to see if I can find a writing group in [country of sabbatical] but I am not sure that writing in another language will work. I will let you know." 2015

"I am very much looking forward to be sitting around the table in the room you have made into such a safe place for so many of us to come and explore our lives and our worlds." 2015

"Your classes were important to me and I want to be able to take another one soon, as soon as the book is finally put away, which I hope will be a few weeks from now. I thought a lot about your classes while I was writing about teaching and writing because your classes are some of the best I've ever seen. I've been looking for the words to say why.
Just now, I was reading a book about play by a psychologist, Stuart Brown. I read a few pages and thought of your class, and how you create this space where people can be authentic and find their way in words. In teaching in academic writing classrooms-- there's so much talk. And you very deftly nudge people to find out for themselves. I hope I will be able to take a class with you soon... when the book is done and I can return to the pleasure of writing and creating." 2015

"Thank you for all you do and how you do it." 2014

"What a wonderful class on Wednesday night! I'm back on a roll. I wasn't sure I could get something from scratching the sparks together. Forcing myself to prep a story for class was fabulous. As you could tell, I was completely wired-up from the experience. Thank you for the powerful listening and encouragement. I have no idea what the next six months holds but I'll make it if I can keep up the writing." 2014

"Just thinking of how encouraging you were when I could barely hold pen to paper, how your sparks worked even when my sprinkler system would not shut off, and how delightful it was to listen and be heard. I was always amazed by what we did under your gentle direction." 2014

"I think back very fondly to your writing class and what a rough spot I was in when I started there. It truly was a comfort to have that place to go every week and to be reacquainted with my big imagination between classes :) I miss having time for that." 2014

"I think your mentor did a great job because if not for you, I don't know if I would have believed this much in myself- I truly love working with you-I am lucky." 2014

"The opportunity to write and actually get it out there saying it, is a pretty powerful tool for my inner self to work on my own healing. Thank you so much for this amazing experience in safety and kindness, attention and support in the environment you have set up in your work. It is much appreciated." 2013

"You are a great editor. All your comments on my piece this week are right on the money." 2013

"I am psyched about writing. And I'm getting a clearer idea of who I am as a writer, confidence in the value of things I have to share, and awareness of the unique style in which I write. I guess this is another way of saying I'm finding my voice." 2013

"I appreciate the tenderness with which you nurture each of us. There have been several miracles in our class so far this session." 2013

"...it really stimulated some deep work... that is obviously my truth. Did love being with the others on Thursday and will miss them and seeing you weekly. You are helping poets and writers give birth to themselves! Was working on taxes all day - now off to dinner - would rather write! Edited the poem from class - I'm happy with it. see you tonight." 2013

"In class,....each of us has a distinct style as well as universal themes/feelings. I have gotten to appreciate a wider range of styles; in particular I am more aware now than I was in earlier classes that each class has a personality and distinct gifts to offer us...I fully expect this to be another fulfilling class. I aspire to be (almost) as able as you are to see people's potential beyond whatever limitations/hesitations they have at any given moment. Thanks, again, for being you." 2013

"I miss you and your table and the writers around it. But I'm so grateful for the happy and comforting and provoking and electrifying hours spent in those writing circles. Thank you." 2013

"Thanks for seeing the best in me re: the writing. I can imagine how you need those words of encouragement re: the class as well. Usually people just assume the teacher needs no support. Well I'm here to tell you, people blossom in your class because you see the best in them. Thanks for your earlier suggestions on the poems. I had no idea that your class would force some unexpected much appreciated writing out of me." 2013

"For what it is worth, today is my 86th day in a row of writing on my book, in the mornings at 6, right when I get up. I love starting my mornings with the words and sentences. It was WONDERFUL sitting at your table; I learned so much and really enjoyed myself each time. The safe but prodding environment elicited writing that I'm proud of, and that I didn't know I could produce. Watching that happen before my eyes was spell-binding. Thank you!" 2013

"As difficult as it is for me to be there sometimes, I do appreciate so much the impetus the weekly meetings give me to write, and that you do the amazing work you do of listening, and really hearing each of us." 2013

"You are the magic that makes it work. You always inspire us to do more by seeing why our writing is meaningful! And the results of all of us doing it together is very exciting. Thanks so much." 2012

"It was a wonderful workshop. Thank you, Ellen for being the world’s best listener, someone who knows how to draw forth the best in each of us. I had sufficient time for writing, and I’m still reflecting on the feedback. It was good that you also allowed time at the end to just chat informally with each other. All in all, a terrific day, and I hope there will be another workshop next year." 2012

"It makes me glad to know that you will read this new draft first and talk with me about it before I do a final go through. I love working in collaboration with you and am grateful." 2012

"I was going through a drawer in my bedroom and found a journal with my writings from 2004 on Star Island. I sat down to read them-some coming back to me and others as if I had never read them let alone wrote them. Tears came to my eyes-some of them the cause of tears, and some just leaving me overwhelmed with amazement that I had written them. And the prompts-absolutely amazing! Well, I decided to copy them into the computer for posterity-who knows who will ever see them, and maybe I'll print them out and put them into a binder, for who knows why. I quickly thought of you and how wonderful a facilitator you are during the writing workshops. Not that no one else can do the job, but you have something that I cannot describe, that others don't have. And so, I want to thank you again for the hundredth time." 2012

"Again I thank you Ellen for your encouragement, expertise, constructive suggestions, loving support, and kind friendship. My cousin who is an organizer in the yearly writer's conference [in her state], has asked me many questions about your classes since there is new grant money for writing classes. I rave about your skills, so she wants to learn more about your style of teaching as she applies for this grant money. I sent her to your website, but the truth is that it's not the techniques I can list that matter as much as your perceptive reading, your ability to give consistent constructive feedback, and the nurturing atmosphere you create." 2011

"Thank you for always having tea and hot water and honey available for us. I really enjoy your writing class and hope to be able to join again in the spring or summer. Thanks for making this writing experience so much fun and rewarding." 2010

"I'm noticing that the essays since a year ago when I began writing with you are more engaging and powerful, because I went for my grief rather than trying to conceal it or make it more acceptable to others…It has been nurturing and inspiring to have you walking beside me for more than a year now. Friends who read the articles I have written said that my writing has become stronger and more engaging. I owe much to you for the suggestions you give and the structure you create." 2010

"I wanted to tell you that I'd like to take the marathon class if there's still room. Also, that a number of my poems were accepted for an online publication." 2010

"I just wanted to thank you so much for writing me a recommendation. The other two people who wrote me letters were not familiar with my writing so your letter was really important and so meaningful to me personally."
(Upon acceptance into MFA program) 2010

"As I reflect back to my work done in the Writing Room, I am so grateful for your cues and guidance. The opportunity let my subconscious 'out to play' giving it a safe place to be blessed into reality. Thank you so very much, Ellen, honestly taking your class was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I still hold on to our last writing assignment, knowing that when I am able...no let me rephrase…when I want to write again, that is where I will start." 2009

"I think the structure you've created for the class is excellent. All the aspects feed into each other nicely." 2008

"[The class] inspired me to write more." 2008

"I am still awed by the different tangents we all take on the same topic. The human mind is so very amazing, isn't it? Makes me smile, makes me laugh, often makes me sad, I guess, and makes me think hard. What fun!" 2008

"If you ever want to have a wonderful writing, self-discovery, and sharing experience in a comfortable environment where senses of humor are very welcome and critiques are gentle, positive, and insightful -- I recommend Ellen's workshop. …[I feel] absolutely fulfilled and more. I not only 'wrote through a rough spot,' I gained more confidence as a writer and creative thinker. If you have an ongoing or dreamed-of writing project, Ellen's technique can even help you get unstuck or pick up the momentum. She's really amazing." 2007

"It feels good to write again. I feel grateful to you for helping me into the gentle waters of creativity." 2007

"And thank you for your energy and ability to 'pull' things out of us!" 2007

"You amazed me, remembering the details in each of our stories and finding a way to encourage each of us. I'm really enjoying the space & place to write. I'm looking forward to future sessions." 2007

"Thank you for the kind words. Such diverse thoughts/writing among so few people! Interesting, indeed." 2006

"It is an honor to be part of the group!!" 2006

"Your reflective skills stood out to me. Very thorough reflective responding doesn't happen so frequently in everyday life --I tried to listen deeply to everyone's stories and to anticipate how you would respond. But I had trouble generating in my mind as perspicacious and warmly genuine of a reflection as you did." 2005

"I left feeling VERY enthusiastic about writing. For 5-6 years, writing was completely shelved from my consciousness: I had gradually come to conceive of the activity as completely foreign, something that someone else is meant to do, not me. But I left with a warm sensation of writing and its potentials: as fun, as self-introspection, as a channel, as a friend, as a purpose -- and these feelings about writing enriched my life. Thank you for instigating this unforeseen excitement." 2005