Five days : writing and writers, in the middle of nature as far as your eye can see, fed and caffeinated and watered, extraordinary faculty.
With particular thanks to Pam Houston for starting Writing by Writers (and for making one of the sites at Methow Valley)
Huge thank yous to Lidia Yuknavitch for being, and for being present with our group of 12 and helping us find ways to make our work stronger, for your support. And thank you to my workshop writing partners, Sheila, Kristin, Chelsea, Taylor, Arielle, Ellie, Rochelle, Bridget, Marcie, Cindy, Chanel.
I know it was an especially good writing workshop when I come home excited to jump into revisions and rewrites, which includes not only the editing I knew I had to do, but two more threads/themes I need to go back and incorporate throughout the project and some questions I have to answer.
Next up isr Ariel Gore's Summer Manuscript online class, which begins in three weeks. Currently printing the full manuscript to begin final prep for that. So, more editing!
If you know me in my writing life, you know that "I'm excited to edit" is not usually in my vocabulary. Which is how i know this is the real deal - that the gems from Writing by Writers are true and that the timing for Ariel's manuscript workshop are spot on.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
I'm at the Writing by Writers Methow Valley workshop again this year. The drive up was gorgeous. The lodge is expansive and feels like a great place to meet to workshop writing, the beds are heavenly, the location far from city lights & traffic & incidental noise & distraction; good food, friendly staff; the faculty and participants are delightful.
And I was sitting here on a free-time break, in my room, on my laptop (my roommate is out hiking; some people are writing; some are in the hot tub or doing other activities). And thinking.
Last night I skipped the Cowboy Dinner, which also meant missing the founder's reading. But I skipped last night's event because I was writing. During the day yesterday I knew I was going to stay and write, because I felt inspiration in me, waiting for me to sit down and listen. I didn't know exactly what it was but something was there.
And I was right. I wrote a small but very major piece of the story. A piece I've struggled with since stories morphed and became The Writing Project. And I also am 100% sure it is right because the other thing that happened is that this new -- okay, I'll say it -- new ending not only feels right, but there are other signals that it is the right thing to do. Because this new ending of this book means there are some things I have to go back and change, or back and add, through the entire project. And I am completely fine with that. This is what needs to happen and it feels right and I'm looking forward to my next tasks. Which are huge. And I do mean gigantic huge pieces of writing work. Wow.
Yesterday, the second full day of workshops and events, my creativity said "hello, oh it's you, yes, I know, but I've been waiting for you and now you're ready, so let's go." Yes, I get small bits here and there. But this is the real deal.
I don't know how it will balance out. Still or again and that question doesn't entirely matter right now.
This was another moment of noticing how having time held for the sole purpose of writing and writing related conversation/inspiration/sharing/exploration generated - surprise - writing.
And sitting here on my bed with my laptop, I was thinking about the last three mornings of workshopping other writers' pieces. Discussing creation and craft and opening and what's working and ideas for going deeper and richer and signature moves.
And that, even though I was alone in the room last night when I was writing. Even though I am often alone when I am writing, for me, at least, writing really is not a solitary task. And even the Tuesday times when I meet with another writer for two hours and we write, my writing is mine and hers is hers and we are together but doing the parallel task of writing independently. And I think - not for the first time - that writing is not a solitary task.
Not really. Or not always. There are solitary elements and times where we probably need to be alone to do what we're doing.
But writing, I don't think, is solitary. It can be at times. But it isn't really.
I'm sure someone can give me some names of writers who have done it without anyone else.
But these days here I see, again, how we need each other, too. How our writing can be strengthened by having other eyes and ears on our words. How other perspectives can help us see our work in new ways. And, as Lidia says, they can help us find our "signature moves." Which we don't always see because we are too close to the words or other reasons.
So the words are individual, yes; the stories come from our bodies. But we benefit from exposure and time with other writing beings, other creatives.
The myth of the lonely writer is another traditional trope I think we can let go of, too. Writing in community has many benefits.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
So much happening - in my local world of words and theater. In this country with the - no, I'm trying to keep politics out of here, which is one reason why words have shown up here less frequently, I believe.
I do not mean that personal and political are unrelated. Or that writing about the political situation and the crisis we are in are separate.
But I have been overwhelmed with many things that are happening. Overwhelmed and yet I call and/or send emails and/or send postcards and/or do the online forms with or without personalization other than my name.
Facebook has become a daily near-ritual, which I vowed it would never be. But politics and having people I know in the 3-D world I trust and respect who are helping keep me informed. Finding links to research. Reaching out and being there for others. It is all important.
Here, writing, that side of me which creates because I can't not create. Who writes because there's a drive and words to say. The me here, "inside voice" is what burbles to the top of word lists right now. I don't have to shout about it, I can just be the quiet me, the reflective me, the going inward and bringing up stories and words and putting them together into something to share. Or not.
But right now vulnerable. Not just because of politics. Because of writing. Because of my writing. And I keep going, will keep doing it. Will get it done.
Vulnerable. Yes. And sometimes that is hard to put down.
I just did.
I'm still here.
Next week I will be going to the Writing by Writers workshop/conference at Methow Valley and I'm excited. I will be in the Lidia Yuknavitch group again this year. What I submitted this year is not as strong as what I sent last year, which is okay, it's a workshop and there will be feedback, which can only help make the two chapters stronger. I am also working on revising a piece to submit; I haven't found the deadline yet, so I hope I don't miss it. I am also doing a different sort of daily writing, which is hard to get myself to do and I have, for six consecutive days; yay, me!
And I've been writing a lot of correspondence related to a major section of my work - performance interpreting. There are some conversations happening related to some potentially exciting performance events, which I can't say right now and I'm sorry for being vague. I will be posting more over at Performing Arts Interpreting Alliance (PAIA) about three interpreted shows which have just been added ("Sordid Lives" as part of the OUTwright Festival on June 10; two short Kabuki plays being performed in English at PSU on May 30; "The Tempest, a Magical Steampunk Adventure" at Experience Theatre on July 2).
Oh - and back to writing: I signed up for Ariel Gore's Summer Manuscript Workshop. Twelve weeks devoted to working on/finishing a book project. Yes, I did it. I signed up. I had secretly set a date to complete the revision of the manuscript in mid-October. When I saw a reminder about Ariel's workshop and I checked my calendar, the timing was almost perfect so, I took the leap. I am excited about that and. Wow!