Sunday, February 17, 2013

Where I am Now: Sidney, Nebraska

Just arrived in Sidney, Nebraska and spending the night at a hotel across the street from the World Wide Headquarters of CABELAS.

That aside, my charming husband and I drove 786 miles today - I'm going to fudge it and say 800 miles for simplicity.

Definitely glad I brought the bottle of Glenlivet single malt I always pack in the dogs' food bag. Since their bag gets unloaded from the car before everything else does, and since they're fed before anything else happens, I pour myself a respectable shot in the hotel's plastic cup, relax and watch the puppies eat as I sip and savor. A few moments of down time, relaxation and a bit of libation is just enough. Those few moments of quality time alone works wonders to keep me from saying all those really regrettable things that come to mind when we're tired, hungry, crabby and road-weary.

Note: Opportunities for relationship-testing abound!

I'd highly recommend that anyone contemplating marriage would be wise to drive cross country with his or her beloved accompanied by 2 very large farting dogs while also being prepared for blizzards, dust storms, pea-soup fog, black ice (never heard of that stuff before I began driving cross-country), in addition to migrating herds of elk, antelope (not to be confused with can't elope) the occasional stray cow who might wander onto the highway, and deer who engage in games of "chicken" with their fellow deer by darting in front of speeding vehicles. All these events generally occur during times of diminished visibility or extreme cold!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

People In the Workshop I'm Conducting

During the last 3 weeks, I taught my memoir writing class – a workshop really, an introduction really, for local folks who’ve been thinking about writing in this genre for a long time but haven’t gotten going. It’s not for lack of interest. More likely, it’s from not knowing where or how to proceed. That said, it’s a tough go. I know. I, too, faced those dilemmas for an incredibly long time.

The workshop title - Writing Your Life: Beyond Journaling. The people who attended - one by one,  claimed they weren't writers
  • But here is the misperception; a writer is someone who writes. Whether their writing is published, whether publishing is a goal or whether their writing is tucked away in a desk drawer to be savored privately - this doesn’t alter the definition of “writer.”

  • The people in my workshop were an incredibly diverse and complex group. The people in myworkshop are passionate writers – each one approached the in-class writing exercises from uniqueperspectives and in highly creative ways. One gentleman drove two hours each way to attend. Heintrigued us with insights into rural life, reading aloud about horses, scriptures, and farming. All of thisso removed from my own urban life experiences. He arrived to our third and final meeting bearing agift: a huge jar of natural honey.

  • There was the doctor and his wife who shared their common goal: to write their memoirtogether. But amazingly, they also wrote their own detailed pieces; he - about transporting childrenfrom overseas to the USA for specialized heart surgery; she - about her good fortune of having attendedcooking classes in Normandy.

  • There was the man who could attend only on the first session but who came to learn whateverhe could in order to write about the search for his Polish roots. One woman, who hailed from NewYork to Idaho via thirty years in Los Angeles, wrote words that landed on paper as poetry. We sharedshort essays written in response to prompts. There were photos brought in, drawings of floor plansof childhood homes, and during our last meeting – scents contained within a group of containers thatranged from antiseptic cleaners to cinnamon and peanut butter.

  • The people in my class may have learned about memoirs and prompts, about methods forapproaching the difficult task of organizing their memories and family documents, but I learned more. Iwas heartened by their willingness to read their written exercises, by their efforts to put into words theanswers to my challenging worksheets, and by the complex and well thought out questions they asked.
The people in my class may have taught me more than I taught them!