I lead, they teach

I lead, they teach

This is the line that came to me last week during one of the Wild Writing classes I run.

I have three live, in person, flesh to flesh classes here in Northern California, and four that take place on a video platform, which allows women from across the country to join me at 8am on a weekday morning – all of us in little boxes on the screen just like The Brady Bunch. We can’t make actual eye contact, but we can see each other as we write and read aloud for an hour and a half each week. Given the possible coldness of technology and the occasional glitch where someone gets kicked off their server, it’s a pretty incredible way to do deep this work with people.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Remember that essay you had to write the first day back from summer vacation when you were a kid? This is what I hope I can write in a few months when September rolls around:

That some mornings I started the day in my nightgown on the side porch, in a patch of sun…

Where Do Our Stories Come From?

  Over the years I’ve met a lot of people who wonder if their lives are interesting enough to write about. Maybe you came from a nice family where your parents spent time with you and told you what a stellar individual you were. Maybe you married the love of your life and your children are complete angels. Or maybe you’re just an average person who came from ho-hum central. You’re not married to a rock star, you don’t juggle, can’t speak in tongues, haven’t been on television and we probably didn’t see you at the Oscars last weekend.   The truth is, most of us have haven’t the experience of riding through New York City in a taxi and looking out the window to see our own mother digging through a trashcan. Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle did, and it made for a whopper of a book.   The bulk of us are regular folks with ordinary experiences. We get up, we work, interact with a handful of people, maybe we take care of children, we shop, we cook, ride busses, pay bills, get online, get to the gym. That’s our life and like it or not, that’s where our stories live – in the ordinary mulch of our lives.   Here are some of the things my students have written about in the last few months: Becky writes about what she’s going to cook for dinner, regularly wowing us with the details of cleaning lentils or choosing lemons for a pie. Susan writes about being on the aikido mat and what she learns about patience and...

A Calm, Open Walk Through a Dark & Tangled Mess

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been gearing up for Four Uninterrupted Days of Writing, the four-day workshop I’m running here at 27 Powers with the inimitable Jen Louden. 17 brave souls showed up here this morning and mostly what I’ve been thinking about for these last couple of weeks is how to serve them.   Of course Jen and I have writing lessons and hand-outs. We’ve got tips, tricks and tools, and even a get up and shake your booty sound track so the writers can get out of their heads and move a little blood. We’ll have coffee and snacks and a delicious catered lunch each day, as well as plenty of time for writers to write and read their work. And while all of that is real nice, the thing I’m really wanting to support them in is learning how to create a world inside of themselves, an internal landscape that calmly allows each of them to move through their writing when they’ve forgotten what the hell their stories were about and why they mattered in the first place.   If you’re like me, you’d kill for a Google map that tells you exactly how to get from the beginning of a story right on through to the end.  I’d cream for an app that instructed me to begin the story in the scene where my Mother realizes that I have a rat’s nest – an impossible tangle of knots — in the back of my hair, then the app tells me to veer left when she screams, “If you don’t get that rat’s nest...

Keep Coming Back

And so, after a couple of fairly unproductive days of writing – or – not writing – as the case was – days where I’d meant well, had made a little nest on the couch, surrounding myself with not only a pile of bills, but a list of writing assignments and essays I’d started, but which were going nowhere. After all that, I found myself jogging in my town with a little group of work out buddies from my gym.   Most of us aren’t real runners, we just take orders from this horribly fit man named Nate who has no fat on his body, and who we pay to push us around. Yesterday he told us to run five times around a hot, city block, lift heavy weights – sometimes running with those weights – do planks, crunches and an assortment of other horrible things – all of it culminating in something called a burpy, where you throw yourself onto the ground, do a push up and then jump – no – leap into the air and clap your hands like you’re simply delighted, when in fact, you really just want to throw up. We did this like 25 times.   So there I was running and feeling sorry for myself because I’m certain I’m not built to run, and my middle aged legs feel heavy, and I’m huffing and puffing and tears are leaking out of my eyes, and I’m hoping that all this hard work will pay off so I can fit into these dresses which I want to wear for these upcoming weddings. And then...