About a month ago, I committed to posting longer, more well-thought-out answers to the questions that Britt Bravo posed to me during our Arts and Healing Network podcast conversation. Here’s my answer for day seven!
7. How has [facilitating] the workshops changed your own writing?
I think the most important impact that the workshops have had on my own work is an encouragement to be more, and more consistently, brave.
Each week I get to write with folks who are taking chances, finding new language for old pains, old desires, or new and surprising ones. Every week I am inspired by these writers’ braveries, their risk and subtle (and not-so-subtle!) implosion of yet another barrier to connection with others, of demands to silence, of old trainings. The way we often go ahead and read aloud the work we hate, the work that scares us to have written, the work that seems to make no sense, the work that is “too” stream of consciousness, “too” organized, “too” truthful or “too” fictional.” The way Pat Schneider organized the AWA method makes it feel ok, feel possible, for folks to “go there” in their writing, to speak the unmentionables, to create a story for that thing without words.
I am someone who believes that you ought not ask someone to do something you haven’t, or wouldn’t, do yourself–so I am driven to step into similar risk. To let myself try on words for a big fear, a big loss, a big shame, a big longing. To let myself strip out the words to a new story that needs an old telling. The folks I’ve written with since 2002 encourage me over and over purely through their example to take more risks in my writing, to follow the truths in my writing, as they do, to say what isn’t supposed to be said., like they do, to claim my multiplicity of voices, like they do. This is the most profound effect that facilitating these workshops has had on my work.
The fact that I’m always reading aloud what I’ve just written means my work, overall, is more performative, more ready to be performed, because I’m writing it with the knowledge that I will most often be reading it aloud – that means I pay a different quality of attention, even unintentionally, to how the words will sound when I bring them up off the page and into my lungs, off my tongue and into the room. Most of the pieces I performed on this year’s Body Heat: Femme porn tour were written in an AWA-method workshop, either Writing Ourselves Whole or Laguna Writers workshops, first read there, first received in these crucibles of risk and transformation and possibility – and those receptions paved the way for a more public (nation-wide!) reading!
These are the biggest effects on my own writing of facilitating the Writing Ourselves Whole workshops – in addition, of course, to writing a whole lot more regularly. What about for you? Are there ways that working/writing in one of the Writing Ourselves Whole or another AWA-method workshop has impacted your writing?