When We Leave the Fray—and Write
I like to wash,
by way of experiment,
the dust of this world
in the droplets of dew.
—Basho (translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa)
We prefer to think that we can have it all—house, family, career, friends, a public life, and also write—but for most of us, it’s hard to juggle all of this and enjoy ourselves, much less write well. The sense of panic and dividedness within aspiring writers who lead truly full and demanding lives eventually grinds them down. Their writing suffers, and very often it eventually stops, or else it happens only in fits. So many of my students and clients struggle with this—even the truly serious ones, for whom writing is a true vocation—and I worry about the implications this has for our health, our lives, and broadly speaking, even for our society. Even if you don’t aspire to write, I believe that the epidemic of busyness is ruining people’s lives.
With these challenges in mind, my workshops are designed to provide structure, time, and the conditions necessary for thinking and writing. I provide instruction on craft, creative ways to get started, and helpful guidance when you get stuck. In this setting, the nervous system settles down and the body begins to remember how good it feels to do one thing at a time. To dedicate some attention toward doing that thing with our whole selves. Even a half-day workshop can awaken the sense—a memory perhaps—of how important this is for those who wish very much to write, even if only for themselves.
One such opportunity happens a week from now, on June 18. Maybe you’ll join me as a way of taking a break from the intensity of family life now that school is out, and as a way of attending to your inner life. If you bring a sister, brother, or friend, perhaps you’ll discover something that you can do together going forward, and a way of reinforcing your commitment to creative practice. Most of us don’t do this entirely alone—a companero helps. Solidarity breeds courage, conviction, and actual creative work that you can point to and say: I made this.
Poetry in the Park: A Writing Workshop at Thoreson Farm happens June 18, 10:00-3:00, near beautiful Glen Arbor, Michigan. Join me for a day of writing, reading, and discussion at historic Thoreson Farm, which is situated within the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and near Lake Michigan.
Using writing prompts and other creative exercises, we’ll turn our awareness to the landscape around our studio as we consider the natural world and our place within it, asking how our observations can more intimately inform our writing, and nurture our inner lives.
While concluding the day with several drafts of new poems is a goal, I’m also interested in providing participants with a retreat from the busyness and sensory overload that accompanies modern life. This is an opportunity to slow down, quiet our minds, and wake up sensorily in order to write.
This is a generative workshop. Writers of all levels are welcome, including those working in other genres.
Now enrolling via Glen Lake Artist Association: $95 ($85 for GAAA members)
I also have room for a couple more people in Small Pages: Writing and painting as Contemplative Practice on June 25.