Writing is just one part of the experience when attending a writing class. Sometimes our writing is just for ourselves, like a personal journal, while other writing might be written with an audience in mind. We might be aware that we need to share it with our fellow participants.
When we write for ourselves and re-read it we have the opportunity to listen carefully and hear our own voice, our own words coming back to us. We may or may not pick up on subtleties on hidden messages or meanings that were part of our subconscious. When others listen they might help us identify and name those messages.
When we read for others we are listening to the story we have written for them. We may be listening and hearing the words as we read the story but we may be also aware of the words we chose to leave out, the words we chose instead of others, the words we thought others would appreciate or understand. We are listening to the undertones of the story as well as the actual words we hear.
When the experience is reversed and we listen to the writing of others, we find ourselves in a different space. We need to listen carefully to hear what it is they are saying. When we hear feedback and comments from other participants, we recognize what we may have missed or how we may have understood the messages in a different way.
Each word, the flow of the words in combination, the structure of the words that make up the story all come together to make the whole. We need to listen carefully if we want to hear the whole. We need to listen as much to what is not spelt out, what is not said. We need to engage our imagination to envision what was intended. We can't afford to only listen to the words literally. Not if we want to get the full story.
When listening to our own words or the words of others we must pay full attention. We need to stop the distracting thoughts. We need to block out the surrounding noise. We need to truly give ourselves over to the story. This isn't always as easy as it sounds. Listening is a discipline, a way of being.