Day in a writer's life:
My writers group meets once or twice a month depending on schedules and we have two types of meetings – either a critique group/potluck dinner (a bit more social) or an all day writer's workshop. Our last workshop was on Saturday, March 8, 2008 ten woman showed up on a rainy, dreary day to spend their day writing with me at Brooklyn College~ we laughed, we cried, we shared, we wrote… BOY DID WE WRITE… so I wanted to blog about that experience…
I usually start the workshop with introductions – each woman tells us who they are, what they write, and what special project they're working on or would like to begin work on. Once the intros were complete - -we immediately jumped into a free write. The purpose of the free write is just that… to write freely - - the women write nonstop - - they keep writing, not censoring themselves, not crossing out words… just free writing… so I asked them to free write about their morning or something that might be bothering them from the week and they wrote for five minutes…
Here's my 5-minute free write:
This morning I awoke with a smile on my face~ I looked up and said THANK YOU~ as I put my feet on the floor - - I was smiling because I knew what today would be bringing me JOY, LOVE, PEACE, learning, and strength. I know when I leave today my cup will be filled - -filled with the love and goodness of the women that surround me. The past few weeks have been difficult - - I have had all kinds of emotions flowing through me – pain, sadness, guilt, shame, - - what I must remember is there is nothing I can't get through… there is nothing my force won't protect me from. I am very blessed and know that "thy will - - WILL BE DONE" I am so grateful for this day. I am looking forward to the growth that is constant - - creator thank you for all you have given me - - continue to guide me, teach me and walk with me on this journey - - thank you for all you bring - - I write for you because I have to…
Then we set our intention for the day (what we hope to gain and we also offered our writing to someone):
My intention for today is to love ME and those around me - - to tell the TRUTH – even if it's raw. My intention is to speak and walk in truth for this is what my name means~ my truth may NOT be YOUR truth - - but it IS MY truth… and I will speak it~
Unfortunately, I realized that in sharing my truth – stating my truth - - owning my truth I will lose people on the journey - - there will be people who do not agree with me - - there will be those who will not like what I have to say - - there will be those who will hate me - - there will be those who don't accept me - - but in the end I AM the truth - - that this is the ONE constant… my truth is absolute and unconditional. My INTENT is never to hurt anyone – but I will not lie to myself or anyone EVER! I no longer do things that make me uncomfortable so that I can make YOU feel comfortable – that's not my job - I no longer dishonor me in order to HONOR YOU~ I no longer put your happiness before my own - - while I suffer silently. I no longer need, require, desire nor am I desperate for your love - - because the love that I give me is ooooooh girl - - OH SO FUCKING magnificent~ and even when I walk down the street - - that love seeps out of me by the gallons~ my intention today is TRUTH – because yes the truth does set you free - -and my love - - I am SOOOO good with me!
I offer my writing today to my mom and dad~ to all the parents who should LOVE their children UNCONDITIONALLY regardless of what society, community, family, culture, religion or history dictates~ I am still ME… I come in love - - I walk in peace. I am your daughter and nothing can change that. I offer my writing to YOU both because you created me (and in your blessing me I am able to create these words and share it with the world and for that I am thankful… I am thankful for being born…) and I am beauty because of you~ sending you peace, love and blessings.
Your beloved daughter~
These are some of the WORDS that were used in the writer's intentions that morning… what they hope to gain from the day…and their thoughts on WRITING:
"Simple and not censored"
"A weight to carry - - takes bravery to write"
"We are connected"
"We write for them – the young" J
"Going within" (digging deep for this….)
"Sheltering the storm - - escaping the shadow"
"A way to be free"
"Words that stop the suffering"
"It called us – we didn't call it"
"Teach to let go"
"Write to free the soul"
"Write to free the fear'
"Writing to understand me"
"Writing to find me"
Pilar said: "and I write… cries that are free at last"
Gloria said she dedicates her writing; "TO UNFOLDING MY SILENCE"
After the intentions were set for the day - - we moved on to the business of writing… of CREATING… J NOW the real fun begins J Vanessa and I co-moderated the opening discussion – the sessions focus was on FINDING YOUR VOICE. So we spent some time looking at what that means - - and discussed what that looks like for each of us individually.
The experience of writing together in this way (this day dedicated to writing) is that we are able to tap into a place that for some might be uncomfortable or something that has been bottled up for so long that has been aching to come out. And in coming together in this kind of setting we can at least - - if anything begin – get it STARTED and together we can give each other support or a hug if necessary. This day is about doing what it is we DO as writers. We write because we have to get it out - - while there are people who release in other ways on the dance floor, in prayer, acting on stage, singing their hearts out - - we as writers have a very important gift - - we've been given WORDS - - these words that we allow to come through us and onto the page… and this workshop is a safe place to find our voice without judgment or internal censors.
We talked about writing… and different ways to come into your own… we talked about the ways we come to the page - - my girl Vanessa shared how she free writes… she doesn't have a rigid strict schedule – she allows it to come when it chooses to flow through her… MOST of her TWO novels were written on the train J
And for me writing is very much a religious experience, a spiritual practice… much like when I do my yoga and do my meditations… I come to the page ready… I know why I am here - - I always come to the page ready to create… I don't necessarily wait – I sit in front of the page and start with a word and go where it leads… I too allow for the words to flow through me in free writes and unscheduled… but for the most part I like the routine of coming to the page at set times… and starting my writing with either a prayer, a word, a meditation an experience that haunts or pleases me - - something that happened at the start of my day…. And when I don't write I feel incomplete…
Vanessa led us with a free write - - she started us off with:
And from there we needed to go where it led us -- never putting the pen down – we wrote for 15 minutes… and here's what I wrote:
I remember… when I was little girl forced to be a big girl and take care of my sisters.
I remember…getting hit for things that were so minor but must have been or felt so MAJOR to them~
I remember… when you were born - - my life changed - - I know my life would never be the same - - I vowed that I would not only be a good mother BUT the greatest mother to you~
I remember… writing you a love letter as you slept so peacefully with all my wishes for you. My beloved child you never cease to amaze me - - the beautiful Liz has taught me something profound today - - I put a lot of my shit on you - - but as parents isn't that what we do…THINKING of you as my greatest investment… that somehow you belong to me or that you owe me something… (I hope your able to filter out my shit and create your own J) wow baby that must be quite the cross to bare - - I have wanted to give you everything - - more than I've even given to myself - - you impress me beautiful with your strength, purity, innocence, truth - - rebellious side (and you say FUCK - -mommy's so proud J) you hate authority just as much as I did… but at the same time you maintain your self respect and respect for others.
I remember…when we met on myspace - - it started off innocent~ you requested me as a friend and I accepted your request. A friendship was formed – two writers talking about writing – two mothers talking about our children – two women supporting each others dreams from miles away~
I remember…when you flirted with me - - and I flirted back~
I remember…feeling something and I immediately went on the attack.
I remember… hurting you with words because what I was feeling did not seem normal~ did not seem right~ this connection we had before that moment was wonderful just two friends talking… getting to know each other - - but then it became more…
I remember… when I told you I love you - - I could no longer fight what I was feeling. The truth is I am at home with you. The truth is I love you - - the truth is I can't wait to marry you~
Then we moved onto the next free write was titled: How do I feel about being a woman? What does being a woman mean to me? (I already posted this blog a few weeks back – titled: xxx)
As the day came to a close I had the women write a LETTER OF REFLECTION - - where I simply ask that they reflect on the day… the ladies wrote a letter to me about what they liked or didn't like - - gained… and so on… here's my letter:
A letter for my daughters~
In no particular order:
VANESSA~ my new friend, kindred spirit, soul sister, my writing comrade - - the pen is your sword~ I am thrilled to march with you~ my love…there are some good things to fight for - - don't completely let that go of that… don't fuck with that… "YOU KNOW THEY AINT READY."
PILAR~ there is beauty in pain - - your messages for your mom come from a pure place ~ there are things you want her to SEE and KNOW and in time…. She will SEE~ but if she never does - - keep getting ready.
LIZ~ I see my Courtney in your eyes~ you bring a mature innocence that touches me~ you write with intention.
LORRAINE~ there is gentleness in your voice - - we've been together for a while now and with every meeting I see you - - I see the WRITER coming out more and moreJ.
DAKOTA~ you make me smile~ I love your voice~ I aspire to play like you – on my knees crawling around…touching everything…FEARLESS - - what must the world look like through your eyes - - not yet tainted by the toxic forces of this place.
DIANA~ your SPIRIT is powerful~ I'm not sure you even KNOW how powerful you are - - but I hear it in your VOICE – in the way you stand – how you hold your daughter - - you are like Lenina's FIRM TREE - - FIRMLY PLANTED~ the cloud will pass. BELIEVE THAT~
LENINA~ you are brilliant~ and I don't use that word LIGHTLY~ you talk about coming from a strong background and history of being socially aware and I see it in you… you walk with your legacy…there are things you KNOW - - that have been taught, things that have inherited and those passed down to you, and others that you've learned from your schooling - - but the VOICE I HEARD TODAY was YOURS~ a FORCE in your own right!
GLORIA~ there is much you have to say - - there is much to learn from you and with you~ we are a SLOW BURNING PROCESS J I am thrilled to have met you and am grateful for the opportunity to burn with you - - LETS GET IT DONE~
My LESLIE~ my brave warrior~ your words truly touched me today - - you went to a place that I'm sure you weren't prepared for~ and I am so proud of you for doing so… it took great courage to be THAT OPEN… I feel honored.
What I gained today~ IS to SURRENDER… that is my biggest gain. To be able to walk with these women today and come as I AM - - requires a great deal of faith and trust. Surrendering…. To not be worried about how I will be seen - - will my words sound smart? TRUST -- FAITH - - believing… What I walk away with today is an incredible amount of love~ a love that I get to bring home to my daughter and this amazing self love that consumes me - - this incredible love that this day has blessed me with. My wish for each of you is that you keep writing~
These are some of the words that came from the other reflection letters about the experience and about each other:
"A reunion - - a union of warriors"
"Willing to endure the slow burning process"
The fact that these women were WILLING to give up their entire Saturday to write just shows me that they are ready to do this~
For my writers…what is your writing process?
Share how you found your voice~
For my readers… what's your process? We each have a voice in any area we're in - - what's your process?
Share a day in your life~