TRAVERSE CITY — Jamie Horten sometimes struggles to connect with others. Even other military veterans.
Every veteran’s story is unique, and they, like civilians, struggle at times to understand what other service members endured while in the line of duty, said Horten, a Kingsley native who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq four times while in the Army as an infantryman and artilleryman.
Horten, 34, hopes to bridge such divides during a writing workshop for veterans at Northwestern Michigan College, a project that kicks off Monday.
“Writing has always been a way to release, almost like a liberation, because it can be really hard to get those stories out,” he said.
Horten, a premed student, is one of roughly 10 NMC veterans expected to attend adjunct professor Teresa Scollon’s workshop sessions.
Scollon is the driving force behind the new workshop, a crash course in creative writing for students who served in the military. Narrative, voice, imagery: the workshop will cover those elements of writing and more as Scollon and her aspiring writers practice storytelling.
Scollon said she launched the workshop partially because of a belief that civilians like herself are responsible for understanding the consequences of America’s recent wars in far away lands.
“I’m on the civilian side, and I’ve been walking around for the last 10 years being amazed that we are not more affected on a daily basis,” she said. “This is something affecting some people very much, and others very little at all, and I think it’s incumbent upon us to understand this on a national basis.”
Scollon stressed workshop members can write about anything they want, not just military service.
The focus is the craft of writing. Writing instills therapeutic releases from which anyone can benefit, including a greater ability to form connections with others.