Android husband in his infinite wisdom tried to advise me that perhaps now (RIGHT NOW!), in the middle of a move from our home in Reno, NV to a cardbox box in near San Francisco, is perhaps not the ideal time for me to pen the great American recap of the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop.
But you don’t understand! I whined reasoned, if I don’t write it all down now (RIGHT NOW!) then it’s as if I didn’t even go.
Maybe I only imagined the brutally early flight, hallucinated wandering through the mean streets of Dayton,OH and fantasized about being licking distance from Alan Zwiebel, Connie Schultz and Marinka NoLastNameNeeded.
If I don’t write it down it’s as if the magic didn’t even happen.
As Kyran Pittman instilled in us at her session-Finding the authority to write, I am a real writer because I write.
That bold declaration will still take some getting used to.
Because for the last few months my writing here (on my blog) has been sporadic, at best. There were many forces at work preventing me from writing…
I have a two year old.
My dog might have cancer.
I’m afraid that no one is listening.
I’m afraid that everyone is listening.
I’m afraid that my stories do not belong to me alone.
And the loudest (and nastiest) force: self doubt.
Who do you think you are?
Why do you even bother?
This writer’s workshop was either going to confirm all of my biggest fears or quiet my (inner) critics and give me the courage and the inspiration to put pen to paper (or lifted Logitech keyboard to Ipad.)
I am so happy to say that it was the latter.
Courage and inspiration came in many flavors.
Chocolatey for instance,
without a hint of bitter aftertaste as everyone proudly shared their accomplishments with one another and were lovingly received and cheered on,
and of course peanut buttery for self acceptance,
I stole these peanut butter packets ‘for just in case’ and I’ll be damned if I didn’t lick the peanut butter right outta them when I got hungry. But it was either accept myself as the hungry, less than sophisticated, cheap-skate immigrant that I am, or starve.
I think I made the right decision.
Insight came too from the sessions I attended.
Kyran Pittman, author, speaker and beautiful person inside and out, spoke of being a ‘writing being’ as opposed to ‘being a writer.’ The former is process oriented, rooted in the present moment, with validation coming from the inside and existing independent of gatekeepers. While the latter is outcome oriented and driven by past and future (successes) She explained that true masters move between the two and encouraged us to honor our raw ambition, to reach high but to reach with correct posture so you don’t break yourself in two. Kyran reminded me that writing is a service vocation and that you must show up and delight the audience, even if it’s an audience of one. (Hi Mom!) Kyran was also at the right place at the right time to give me a much needed hug when I completely lost it after hearing my daughter tell me she missed me. Did I mention it was my first time leaving her? Yeah I was a bawling mess in that moment and Kyran was so sweet to me.
Nancy Berk, the hilarious stand up psychologist, in her workshop the Power of Erma summed up Erma’s lessons beautifully: do what you love, do it your way, let excuses be your material (I can’t write because my laundry is piling up, etc), chaos and imperfection are hilarious and acceptable and when making fun of people target yourself first. She spoke of the power of social media,Twitter in particular,for helping you create your support system and find opportunities,emphasizing that you need to speak up for yourself because you get an “F” for shyness in this business.
Tracy Beckerman, the hysterical and successful syndicated columnist, gave us a formula for writing the Six Million Dollar Humor Column. She delighted us with truisms like the K sound is funny as are those thingamajigs known as nonsense words.
Anna Lefler the statuesque, gorgeous genius behind “the Chicktionary” gave me so much to think about in her session Brand to Book- Creating an Online Voice that Opens Doors that it might necessiate it’s own blogpost! She distilled the very essence of humor as Nerve. Vulnerability. Humanity. (I told you she’s a genius)
And last but not least, Karen Walrond, the incandescent blogger, photographer and public speaker who embodies everything that I strive to be, exceeded all of my expectations. I was a bumbling starstruck moron around her and she was nothing but kind and patient in return. She led her lucky audience in Creative Exercises to Inspire Writing, challenging us to journal every day to capture the ephemera of your life, give mind mapping a try as a way to gather your thoughts the way they actually happen, create a life list or a life menu of awesome things to experience while you’re still here and prompted the photographers we all can be to photo journal and take purposeful photo walks to awaken the creative spirit as both writing and photography are about seeing. She also gave us an impromptu photography lesson, but I don’t want to go on as you may die of jealousy.
I could spend another several hundred words on the other workshop attendees who were amazing, my roomate in particular, but as I have already exceeded the acceptable blog post length by 479 words I will gush about them all another time.
Bottom line: if you are a writer (and if you are asking yourself that question right now just know that the answer is a resounding HELL YES YOU ARE) this workshop is where you need to be in 2014. I hope I’m lucky enough to go again.