LJWorld.com weblogs Linda's Backroad Musings

Landon Center on Aging Offers Continuing Education


Theo and Alfred M Landon, names often associated with Kansas State University, also contributed to Kansas University. Research at the Landon Center on Aging located north of the KU Medical Center complex in Kansas City focuses on major issues for the aging population including stroke recovery, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's. Recently, I attended a class offered at the Landon Center. Maril Crabtree, a published author and presenter spoke about Flow Writing. I cannot pass an opportunity to learn something new about writing. Arriving early allows time to study "This Motherless Child" series of eight drawings by Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton on display. I say, "study" because one cannot just look at these drawings. Elizabeth Layton describes the Motherless Child as a "frail, elderly person, who, like a very young child, has become dependent on someone else, yet still has dignity and independence of spirit." Perhaps because of experiences with my family, I find her drawings reassuring. She uniquely captures the elders determination of character in a care facility with drawings and explanations. As the tables fill, I feel apprehensive. All women and one man sit with pen in hand. They are mostly retired. Were they previously English teachers, newspaper editors? Listening to conversations, I learned there are several poets. Thankfully, no credentials checked and in fact, laughter all around and I feel at ease. We are ready to write."Flow Writing is a way to find out what's going on inside. It's an act of discovery" explains Ms. Crabtree. To accomplish this, she tells us to keep our hand moving, try not to think too hard or control our thoughts. Lose our critical editor. Be specific. See a mind picture and write it. Don't worry if it doesn't make sense.The hour and half flies by. We write three essays, read them aloud, feel emotions of humor and sadness in the compositions while learning something about ourselves. I know these people a short time, but feel they are old friends.There is a final Flow Writing Class this summer on August 12, 2008, from 1:00 to 2:30. Attendance at previous classes is not a prerequisite. In addition, September 23rd will be another writing class entitled "Thanks for the Memories" all taught by Maril Crabtree.Our last assignment was to write two minutes about an object from our past that is dear to us. Try it. Get a piece of paper or sit at the computer and let the words flow.


Linda Hanney 7 years, 3 months ago

I'm in a time crunch right now--will be back tomorrow to comment on comments!

David Lignell 7 years, 3 months ago

Linda,Great article. When we first came to Lawrence, I joined the Kansas Authors Club. At the time, I was about 20 to 30 years younger than the average age. Similar to your experience, I grew close to these local members through their stories.Flow writing sounds like Free writing, which follows a similar process, only with a set time period, typically 10 to 20 minutes. Maybe the biggest benefit is that the exercise awakens the dreamer side of the writer before the editor side gets out of bed. Unfortunately, we're taught from an early age to lead with the editor: Diagram that sentence, watch your punctuation, match your pronoun antecedent, use strong nouns and verbs, check your spelling, don't use run on sentences, and so on, is the voice of our English teacher in middle school. It's a wonder we even have the confidence to write out a grocery list as adults. (I still try to follow the rule of parallel construction, though the dairy section throws me off.)Of course, we need both the dreamer and the editor sides of us in the writing process. I think what Flow writing does is allow us to become playful again, and visit the place of our imagination and creativity, before we censor it out with the editor. The editor then weeds out unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and replaces $20 words with nickel "plugger" ones, strengthening the whole piece.Thanks for your post on this. Sounds like a great course and a wonderful experience.

Marlo Angell 7 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like a great class, Linda. I really enjoyed the Layton exhibit at the Lawrence Arts Center earlier this year. The actress Shirley Knight performed a one woman show about her and I regret not being able to make it that night.

Ronda Miller 7 years, 3 months ago

Linda, this does sound like a fun class. It reminds me of some I have taken over the years (outside of KU), that were taught by people who had not only a lot of writing experience but a lot of life lessons behind their writing and teaching technique. Again our classes were filled with mostly females and from all backgrounds and age groups. Their writing was often remarkable.I am fortunate in having had numerous creative writing classes - I don't give much thought to anything while I write except the flow, the emotion, the feeling. I tend to write "stream of consciousness" and find it a terrific medium for my needs. The other stuff is merely details! :)Grandma Layton was an insightful and interesting person indeed!Was there a charge for the class? What was the size limitation?

Linda Hanney 7 years, 3 months ago

David, there was a time limit on the writing assignments. Your description is excellent and exactly how the class was presented and carried out. Maril Crabtree kept reminding us not to let our editor take over our writing. Ronda, your statement, "a lot of life lessons behind their writing" and "their writing was remarkable" both held true for this class. The word elder speaks to experience and knowledge. This class was a fun group of elders. Also, this class was FREE and, as far as I know, no class limitation.Mario, I am touched by Grandma Layton. I would have loved seeing the show. I received a personal email from Matt Chandler at the Landon Center on Aging thanking me for the post. He said if anyone had questions they could contact him at 913-588-3094.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.