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Wisdom, Discovery All Part of Creative Writing Group’s Passion at North Oaks

There are limitless opportunities on a blank sheet of paper. The possibilities lie in the mind of the writer, and can be poured out like flowing water onto the page. At North Oaks, residents in the community’s creative writing group say realizing these possibilities has helped them discover a new world around them and, perhaps more importantly, a new layer within themselves.

“Writing is a wonderful process of discovery,” says Barbara Roswell, a professor at Baltimore’s Goucher College and creative writing teacher at North Oaks. “It helps us recall the past, like a thread. You hold it, and suddenly it’s taking you places you didn’t know you could go.”

North Oaks writers

The group, which meets twice a week, has also published a book, View from the Hilltop, a collection of their work. It’s meant to showcase the writing of the group; and provide readers with a glimpse into their lives.

“North Oaks is a community of active, intelligent, vibrant seniors who are passionate about lifelong learning,” Roswell says. “The book they created is a window into the lives of some truly wonderful individuals.”

One of those individuals is North Oaks resident Marty Waxman, a former reporter and public relations professional, who initially had reservations about joining the group.

“When I moved to North Oaks five years ago, I thought it was a writing class, rather than a workshop,” he says. “I felt I didn’t need instruction in writing due to my career background. When I found out it was more of an opportunity to explore and challenge my writing abilities, I decided to give it a try.”

Since joining the group, Waxman has rediscovered his passion for the written word.

“I’ve produced two opinion pieces that were published in The Baltimore Sun last year,” notes Waxman. “Barbara Roswell does a wonderful job with the class, and I’ve been really challenged from a creative standpoint. It’s a great contrast from my days as a reporter.”

Waxman says the writing he’s doing today is much different from his work as a reporter and PR pro.

“When you’re a reporter, you’re telling stories based on interviews and collecting facts,” he recalls. “Writing creatively in a workshop setting has allowed me to explore other aspects of the written word and to look at myself more deeply.”

Roswell says creative writing is good for seniors from a variety of aspects, including socialization and mental stimulation.

“At North Oaks, you have a group of seniors who are really committed to discovering new things about themselves,” she says. “Writing is a great way to do that, and I’m pleased to have such an eager and talented group of residents.”

What began with the possibilities found on a blank sheet of paper has blossomed into a wonderful book. Its pages reflect the spirit of a special group of seniors who’ve only just begun to write. Their words will live on, a testament to their writing spirit and commitment to lifelong learning.