Discover more from Co-Authored
The permission to step into truth
On the power of writing in community
Writing is often thought of as a solitary endeavor. But Foster’s Season 2: The Art of Modern Writing proved that it could be quite the opposite.
One of the things I love about writing my personal newsletter is that I don’t need anyone’s permission to write about whatever feels true to me any given week. It took me a while to get comfortable with that mindset, though. Before I launched the newsletter, I felt anxious and uncertain about what I was embarking on. Other writers, editors, and mentors helped to get me over that hump and to continue publishing what I refer to as my “personal, vulnerable, and sometimes funny” stories. And I’ve often needed their support at other times in my writing journey.
Over the course of the five weeks of Season 2, nearly 100 writers convened online for a series of expert-led workshops, one-on-one coaching (from Sara Campbell, Minnow Park, and Rob Hardy), and professional and peer editing help. The goal was to dig into what felt true for us at that moment in our lives. The experience culminated in a closing ceremony on Zoom where we all published a singular piece of writing containing our truth.
I was blown away during the ceremony as each participant shared how impactful the Season was for them. Person after person told stories about how their truths were unveiled throughout the Season. They shared how being surrounded by other people bravely sharing drafts of their pieces, as well as receiving personal coaching support, helped give them the permission to step into their truth too.
Below are 15 pieces curated from Season 2 participants that embody the theme of permission. I’m excited to see how these writers progress in the future. And I have a hunch that they’ll look back at Season 2 as an important turning point in their writing lives.
by Russell Smith
During the closing ceremony, Russell expressed how grateful he was for all of the writers, editors, and coaches who helped him produce this incredibly vulnerable and powerful piece. I had the good fortune of meeting him in person at the Season 2 retreat in Puerto Escondido, Mexico and he shared how impactful the Season was on him there, as well.
by Alicia Kenworthy
Alicia shared this within the Foster community a week or so after publishing her Season 2 piece and the words speak for themselves:
My Season 2 Piece is officially my most popular Substack post to date! Something occurred to me recently that I thought I'd share here: I struggled for a bit with sharing my ’truth’ at the beginning of the season because I felt like my truth needed to be ‘heavy,’ like a secret I wouldn't share elsewhere, as if the rest of my life were a facade and THIS IS THE ONE VULNERABLE THING THAT DEFINES ME.
The thing is: the past few years of my life have included a lot of heavy things, and a lot of vulnerable moments, and I've put a lot of that out there for the world to see. In some ways, I came into this season feeling overexposed.
I think these past few weeks were about getting back to that ‘lighter’ side of me, and remembering she still exists. And that smiley, bubbly Alicia is just as ‘true’ as the Alicia who's dealt with some sh*t.
This feels like an obvious statement but it was a fairly big breakthrough for me. And I think finding that voice again is why this latest piece has been so successful.
So, yay. Thankful to all of you and for this beautiful community.
by Tobi Ogunnaike
Tobi shared this reflection on his Season 2 experience with the community after hitting publish during the closing ceremony:
For more than a year, this story has been burning inside me, kicking, screaming, demanding to be written. It’s easily the most difficult but most necessary thing I’ve ever crafted. Thank you Alicia K, Caryn, Cameron for helping me mine this reflection from the pit where I buried it.
The Season 2 container gave Syd permission to start a brand-new Substack newsletter. In the community, she described her Season 2 experience as “writing about the process of exploring and accepting that I’m not meant to be what my environment led me to believe I was supposed to be.” That’s some seriously powerful (and empowering) insight.
by Anthony Pica
Anthony is not new to writing a Substack newsletter, but his Season 2 experience culminated in the launch of a new Substack and shifting from writing professional-oriented posts to telling personal, memoir-style stories. His piece is a touching tribute to his “one-of-a-kind mother-in-law”.
by Jess Sun
Jess describes the feeling of trepidation around embracing the title of “writer”. It’s something every writer grapples with, especially early on in their journey. After sharing her reflections on Season 2 over Zoom, she emphatically shared her piece in the community with the all-caps caption “I’M A WRITER”.
Yes, you are, Jess!
by Jen Vermet
Jen’s words that she shared in the community during the closing ceremony beautifully sum up her experience and what she wrote about:
Existentialism swooped in as my 27th birthday neared during this season, it granted me permission that my life is ‘figured out’ by letting go of ‘figuring it out’.
I now feel much freer and lighter to share more openly about myself after confession of the pretender I have felt like I have been and releasing that pressure that my past self has put on me.
by Pedro Parrachia
Pedro’s words speak for themselves, as well. I guess that’s what happens when you’re surrounded by talented writers.
Foster's AoMW season 2 changed every aspect of my writing and through that also changed who I am. Thank you, every one of you for that.
In his touching Season 2 piece, he gives his writer self permission to write what’s in his heart.
Despite writing about a fairly niche topic (i.e. a small-ish corner of Twitter), Orpheus felt supported and empowered by the Foster community to get his thoughts out into the world.
This is niche BUT it's PUBLISHED — thanks Foster friends for helping me actually put words on paper.
by Phil Hendricks
I lent some editing help on this piece, and I commend Phil for digging deep and sharing his personal story more within it. Here’s how he described the process and working with his one-on-one coach:
Finally published my essay which I could not have done without the help of Foster. Thank you to everyone that contributed, especially Minnow Park!
by Derrick Chiu
Derrick is another Season 2 participant I was lucky enough to meet in person in Mexico. He’s just getting started on his writing journey, but he kicked it off with a banger! This is the reflection he shared in the community during the closing ceremony:
I used to think ppl didn’t want to hear all the messy details of my story. But S2 challenged me to share the most vulnerable parts of my story and truth with the world, as the ultimate way of connecting with others. I’m forever grateful for this experience.
by Nicolás Forero
Nicolás—another Season 2 participant I got to meet IRL—shared this touching note about his Season 2 piece during the closing ceremony:
I'd like to thank the four fantastic human beings that helped me create it: Russell Smith, Lyle McKeany, Danver, and Yashmi Adani. Three which I got to meet in person what seems like [an] eternity ago.
To Andrew Thomas whose hotline made me realize that there wasn't a more important topic to write about than this one.
And to Audrey O’Regan, Derrick Chiu, and many more who, through conversations, helped me explore what I should add to make the piece more me.
by Asad Rahman
Asad is another participant who is just starting to pave a new writing path. Here’s how he described the process of writing his Season 2 piece:
The piece is the first (baby) step on a much bigger journey I have been on during the season: that I can write about personal experiences, not just stuff about my job, and those experiences are interesting and meaningful to others.
Thank you to Theresa “Sam” Houghton, Jason, Nicolás Forero, and others for the feedback, and Sara Campbell for coaching me this season. Foster is a magical place ✨
by Euwyn Goh
Euwyn really hit the nail on the head much more succinctly than I could with his description of his Season 2 experience:
Up till now, writing for me has been an all-consuming and emancipating exercise, but even more often a frustrating and brain-scratching exercise. But being a part of the Foster community (with all of you) has been SUCH great help, as I've found the spirit permeating this community to empower precisely this sort of truth-unearthing endeavour, painstaking but ultimately rewarding as it is.
by Rick Rollins
Rick’s initial draft was transformed quite dramatically because of his Season 2 experience, which he expressed in the note he shared in the community after publishing his inaugural post on his new Substack newsletter:
My piece started this season formal and uninspired. But then I started reading other authors’ writing, and I was amazed at how vulnerable they were willing to be in their writing. I committed myself to doing the same.
The permission to share
You may have noticed a pattern amongst the words participants shared about their Season 2 experiences. Read closely, and you’ll see the names of other participants woven throughout those shares.
That’s part of the magic of writing in community. Season 2 provided an intentional container for participants to be seen and heard, which gave them the permission to share their true selves with the world.