Why I Am A Wild Writer

Why I Am A Wild Writer

Because in a world that has become even crazier than I can remember, and I hear myself telling friends how busy and tired I am, when making a date with someone can take me weeks, and texting is the new talking, when losing my phone feels like losing an arm, and scrolling the internet is the way I fall asleep at night, and my next romance happens because I swiped right, it’s essential for me to be able to sit down with people knee to knee, to let them see the whites of my eyes and for me to see theirs, as we remember how to use our words and find our voices. It’s true that my Instagram account documents slices of my life, and my Facebook page is seen by my “friends,” but there’s something soul healing for me when I gather around a table with other people, putting our phones away for two hours, and pulling out our pens to tell our stories so we can document what it feels like to be a human being. I Wild Write because not all stories have a beginning, middle and an end and I’m interested in getting to the heart of things quickly, and because I’ve watched hundreds of people zip line their way straight into the core of what matters in 10 minutes. Wild Writing trains us to get out of our own way, to untether ourselves from the masthead of formality and pleasantry and to tell the truth, write it raw, and let go of what other people will think. In Wild Writing, we know that the...
Maybe You’ll Teach Me How to Love

Maybe You’ll Teach Me How to Love

“Maybe you’ll teach me how to love.” That’s what he said to me as we lay in the sparse grass by the creek near his cabin. I didn’t know about that, though I did suspect that I was going to need to teach him about the conjunction of your – as in, your purse – and you’re, as in, you’re going home. I didn’t even know if it was called a conjunction. I don’t know what a conjunction is because I never took a serious English class – but he was screwing it up, was all I knew. * That week I had met two Jeff’s on Tinder, both 54-years-old. He was Jeff from Bakersfield. Jeff from Vallejo and I had joked that when people messed up the conjunctions it was an automatic swipe left. We just couldn’t abide by it. I guess I’d made an exception for Jeff from Bakersfield, whose real name was John, but who was changing it to Jeff. I may never get the story of the name change because I may not get to know the man, but it was worth noting. And let’s cut him some slack because his parents were practically teenagers when they had him back in Bakersfield. Then his mother went AWOL and left him early with his father, and within the last year he’d buried that man who’d spent most of his life drunk. If Jeff from Bakersfield wants to change his god given name, let him. Maybe you’ll teach me how to love. It surprised me that he said that because this man is a leader in the...
What I Tell Myself When I’m Feeling Down

What I Tell Myself When I’m Feeling Down

That everything is actually okay – that your life is practically charmed; You’re not sick, are surrounded by people who you love, and who love you. You have work that is built on words, a career you conjured from air, feathers and wood smoke, a schedule you made yourself, a dog in the yard – buried yes – but a true and loving companion for years. Sometimes you go to exotic places to share your work with others, and every day you sit in circles of women, knee to knee finding new words for sadness, for joy, for grief and love. Your students are generous. Human beings who crack themselves open right in front of you, which you find startling even after 25 years. So much of the time you forget how precious this life is, and you rush around thinking that you have to do even more to be noticed and loved. And then these people you work with unzip themselves and step out of their human casings to show you what they’re made of – same stuff as you – all of us just longing for connection, so many of us believing that we should be more. They think you’re the teacher, but it’s always the other way around. You’re lucky. You have children who are just enough hoodlum to make them interesting, but responsible enough to get to work on time. They’re healthy, they know how to love other people, and even when you broke up their family of four, they kept coming home and loving you both. You’ve got, not just a roof over your...
Watching The Heaviest Blossoms Fall

Watching The Heaviest Blossoms Fall

A couple of days ago I was standing in my kitchen before a class with a couple of my students, Mary and Christy, and I was telling them about all the mistakes I’d been making lately, dropping balls left and right, and Mary, who teaches a desktop publishing class at a college nearby says, “Hey, those mistakes are important,” and goes on to tell us what she says to her class on the first day.  “You can take desktop publishing from anyone,” she begins, “but the reason you’re taking it from me is because I’ve got 40 years of mistakes to share with you.” So let’s get that straight. The teacher isn’t the person who knows more than you, not the master at whatever it is you’re trying to learn, the golden one who maybe you’ll be able to emulate one day. No, she’s just messed up more than you – and seriously, you can’t buy that kind of talent. 40 years of mistakes is quite a trek, and if you’re lucky, you’re still making them, at least I am. This last month has felt exactly like learning how to parallel park a big old clunker of a car with a whole crowd of people standing on the sidewalk watching. I’m doing it Lucille Ball style; hitting the car in front of me, then the car in back of me, over and over until the big car is reduced to a sardine can. Nothing elegant about it. Cue the laugh track. Of course I’m making every day mistakes like forgetting someone’s name or forgetting to call on a student...
27 Ways to Tell a True Story

27 Ways to Tell a True Story

27 Ways To Tell a True Story Write from where you are. Don’t think about what others might want to hear. Think about what’s moving through you. What’s actually moving through you now; the man you ended a relationship with a few months ago who you know you shouldn’t text or call. How the last two men you dated have been posting up a storm on Instagram, pictures of their new girlfriends and their travels together. Write about how even though those relationships weren’t right for you, you still go over and over in your mind how you might have made them work. Write about how the sweet one said, “I’m just a simple guy who wants to love and be loved,” and how that echoed in your head for months, how you wondered if you were too complicated for love… Write about how self-care looks like a concentrated effort at avoiding Instagram because you know that’ll only make you feel bad about yourself. Write about the long walk you took in your neighborhood, fighting back tears, one foot in the “I’ve got this” camp, the other in the “What’s my problem?” camp.  Don’t think about something better to write. Write about how every single person you pass on that walk seems as lonely and uncomfortable as you are; putting on a good face – trying to seem like they have it together – like they’re going somewhere –  just like you. Write about this. Start where you are because that is a real place, and I’m telling you, there is nothing better to write about. If you reject...