The list of “first times” we generated for our writing prompt during my writing group this weekend — maybe use an item from this list as your prompt for this morning’s write!
Good Monday morning to you! The birds were a raucousness back there in the live oak tree about a half hour or so ago, but they’ve all slipped off now to some other breakfasting place, and so my morning song is the distant rise in commuter traffic and a garbage truck doing its work a few blocks away. What music is finding you already this morning?
On Saturday this weekend I got to spend the afternoon and evening celebrating the release of Pat Schneider‘s new book, How the Light Gets In: Writing as Spiritual Practice. Pat is the founder and foremother of the Amherst Writers and Artists writing workshop method. She wrote, in another of her books (Writing Alone and With Others): “Everyone is a writer. You are a writer. All over the world, in every culture, human beings have carved into stone, written on parchment, birch bark, or scraps of paper, and sealed into letters–their words. Those who do not write stories and poems on solid surfaces tell them, sing them, and in so doing, write them on the air. Creating with words is our continuing passion.” She reminds us that William Stafford said, “A writer is someone who writes!” Pat envisioned writing workshops as a place where people could support one another’s new writing efforts, rather than tearing at each other’s writing out of some misguided competitive spirit (the sort that was often nurtured and encouraged in the sorts of writing workshops she encountered during her MFA program). And the model she developed is now in use all over the US, Canada, Ireland, and in Africa (in Malawai).
It’s a bird party outside my window this morning. The house finches have taken over the live oak and are demanding to be heard, demanding to be taken seriously. The are tangling with their small constituencies, assuring themselves of their song. They flit back and forth between bird feeder and branch, establishing intimacies and hierarchies, listening to belly and instinct. They bring some bright into the grey out there.
Good Friday morning to you. How has this week been treating you?
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If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t forget to come over to Berkeley tomorrow and join AWA West and PSR as we celebrate the launch of Pat Schneider‘s new book, How The Light Gets In: Writing As A Spiritual Practice. The event is free, and meets at the PSR campus at 1798 Scenic Ave. in Berkeley. The afternoon writing groups are full (though you can probably get your name on a waiting list if you hurry), but you can certainly join us for the reception and reading tomorrow evening. Pat will read from the book, and then she’ll have a conversation with Cary Tennis about Amherst Writers and Artists, writing practice, and so much more. Writing Ourselves Whole will have a table at the event — come on over and say hi if you’re able to make it! There are a few more copies of the Fierce Hunger chapbook left and I’ll have those available for sale, as well as information about the Summer workshop schedule. I hope to see you!
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This morning I got back into my notebook for the first time in about a week. I’d been feeling especially gross, all the inside voices telling me that it didn’t matter if I wrote, that my work doesn’t mean anything, that my time would be better spent with a bowl of chocolate frosting and some terrible television. Do you get the inside voices taking up all the space between your ears and around your heart? How do you take care of yourself when they get especially loud and demanding? Continue reading
(Jen’s note: I’ll be facilitating one of the workshops during the 2:30-4:30 workshop session; come on up and join us!)
How the Light Gets In – Writing Workshops and a Reading with Pat Schneider
Saturday, April 27
Celebrate! A full day of celebration of the contributions of PSR alums Pat Schneider and her husband Peter – writers, teachers, theologians, and founders of Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA).
Good morning good morning — it’s a tired morning over here. The puppy, who has been sick, is curled up in the middle of three pillows, sighing. I’ve got Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig” churning and dancing through me this morning: My candle burns at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— / It gives a lovely light. Today I am feeling these lines especially poignantly.
I would like to share with you everything that is happening around these parts, this side of the street, around Jen & writing ourselves whole both, but there aren’t words for all of it. At least not words I’ve found yet. I’m in a place of invention just now, though, so maybe new words can arrive, alliterate and at the ready.
There was something I wanted to tell you this morning, but the red lentil hummus is calling to me, wanting me to make sure it doesn’t burn, and there’s writing to offer feedback to, and a candle flame to watch dancing. In total this week I have four workshops and one performance — plus a day job and a personal life. That’s my burning at both ends. I keep breathing. I hug the puppy, do some situps, some pushups, I listen to what my body wants to eat, and try to feed it that. I can’t always manage to meet the exact craving, but I’m coming closer most days. How about that?
Good morning good Monday morning. Here, things are just beginning — it feels like they’ve been churning for hours: thin dreams, half-waking, in all the worlds at once.
The nablopomo prompt for today is another from Ricki Lake: I was terrified to go on DWTS, but facing my fear and overcoming it has been an incredible experience. Have you faced fears and overcome them?
There’s another prompt that my friend Ellen offered me recently: What would you write on a piece of paper that you were going to burn immediately after writing?
Good morning. Right?
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At least, when waking up in a panic at 4am, there are foghorns to keep us company. That’s a blessing.
This will be a wonderful opportunity to meet the woman who developed the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop model — she’s an absolutely inspiring speaker, and you are certain to leave the event feeling ready to write. Plus, the trip to Sacto is a nice one! :)
(Click the image to see more of Emily Mclaughlin's photos!)
How many times have I written this in the blog recently: there’s so much I want to tell you, and not nearly enough time? I’m sorry to have missed blogging over the last several days! During my trip from Friday early morning to yesterday, I was completely off-line (always kind of amazing).
I was looking for relevant images (i.e., something related to colds) and this completely cracks me up: check out http://www.thesneeze.com/ for more excellent funny.
Having a cold means not getting up early to do your morning writing, darn it. This is going to be a short post today. Right now I’m having what I think of as a mom-drink: hot water with lots of lemon and a tiny bit of honey.
And, too, I’m moving v e r y s l o w l y. It’s almost as though the brain slows down when we’re sick. I get it about the blood and other fluids being hard at work fighting infection, and so they’re not as available to help our brains do the interesting work of figuring out morning blog posts. (Please, no shaming comments about how I clearly have no idea about how the body works. I’m sure this is true. Perhaps you could just chuckle along with/at me from your side of the computer, and the next time we see each other in real life, you could palm me a card with a url on it that will take me to some useful information about what happens to the brain when our bodies are fighting illness. You’re great.)
Last night I heard an owl in our back yard, the kind they record for movies, loud and sure of itself. It woke both Fresh! and me up, over and over hooting into the quiet neighborhood. Fresh! said, did it wake you up, too? We were quiet, listening, in thrall.
Tonight, Pat Schneider will be at the Pacific School of Religion, (7 pm–9 pm, 1798 Scenic Avenue in Berkeley), talking about the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method that she developed and has been practicing for lo these many years. She will show the movie Tell Me Something I Can’t Forget, about the Chicopee Writers, about the women she worked with in a housing project in Chicopee, Mass., women who altered their lives and reconnected with their voices through the writing together, through the writing however they were drawn to write, through the treating everything as though it’s fiction, through the confidentiality, through the talking about what we like in the brand new writing folks offer to the room, through the remembering that no one has to read — we can write whatever we want because, remember, we don’t have to read it.