In the Beginning
A couple of times a year I host a creative writing workshop. But this isn’t any average workshop. This workshop is at a nudist resort, during a time an event is hosted for Florida Young Naturists, also known as FYN. Naked in the subtropical climate of central Florida with other naked people, I am a writing instructor, baring my talent and letting them bare theirs.
To put it all into perspective, it’s necessary to give a quick background regarding FYN. The group was started in the late 2000s to provide naturist ages 18-30 – though they have since changed it to 18-35 – a safe venue to practice non-sexual nude recreation with like minded people, free of judgement and body shame. The group attracts all sorts of people. You name it, they are there. Nerds, jocks, hippies, liberals, conservatives, Christians, Wiccans and other pagans, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, artists, fire spinners and other performing artists, and of course writers. There are those in the group who host their own workshops consisting of yoga, figure drawing, photography, environmentalism, relationships, and so forth. I have attended many of these workshops and enjoyed them.
Creating a Community
The first four years or so that I attended there was a never a writing workshop. Though, to be honest, I never questioned why. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I started thinking that a writing group could be conducive for a group of nudists. Young people are trying to find their place in the world and need a safe outlet full of a good group of nonjudgmental people to express themselves. FYN is the perfect place for this. I took my idea to Robbe White, the founder, and he readily agreed. Since then I have been leading a workshop for creative writing at Sunny Sands for the FYN events.
The workshop is simple enough. I tell everyone assembled that each of us are storytellers, that we were born storytellers and to just let it flow. I give very little prompts for them to go off of, except telling them that if they want to write a story incorporating nudist themes that they are free to go off of that. As a whole I just tell people that they can write whatever they would like to write about, but to do so in a way that keeps the good vibes of FYN so that it can remain a wholesome environment. What they write covers a large range, from comical to drama, from fantasy to science fiction, from poetry to real life experience. Along the way we politely critique and praise one another’s work, all the while offering encouragement.
It’s not easy for many to share what they have written with others. To do so shows a vulnerability. Then again, it’s not easy for many to get naked with a group of potential strangers as well. Maybe that’s why both go well together. Initially there will be those who will show reluctance to share what they have written and with good reason. Writing comes from our hearts and souls. To share our writing with others is to spiritually and emotionally strip ourselves naked to the point that our blemishes can be seen. However, what’s truly amazing is just like FYN encourages young adults to try social nudity, it also encourages them to step out of their comfort zone in many other ways. Therefore, though there are those who start out nervous sharing their writing, many end up sharing their writing anyway. I never pressure anyone in my workshop to read what they have written. But almost everyone, on their own accord, end up volunteering to read what they wrote.
I think nudity gives people courage to be more true to themselves, to be more authentic, to be a bit more vulnerable. As writers we have to be vulnerable. Just like nudists or naturists learn not to worry about what people think of their bodies, we as writers have to learn not to be concerned over what others think of our writing. That’s not to say that we can’t take constructive criticism and feedback over our stories, poems, and novels, and whatnot. But just like our bodies, possessing both beauty and blemishes, are a part of who we are, and we should be proud of our bodies, our writing is also a part of who we are and we should likewise be proud of it with all it’s beauty and blemishes.