Confession: I am horrible at keeping secrets.
Reframe: I am excellent at keeping other people’s deep, dark, shameful secrets. I am horrible at keeping my own secrets, especially when I am really excited about them.
Example: If I happen upon a random gift that is perfect for someone’s birthday, I cannot hold my wad. (Jen, I’m looking at you. It’s killing me.) I imagine how thrilled the gift will make them, so I blurt out, “I bought you the BEST gift—can I tell you what it is?!”
Case in Point: In June 2020, I will be co-leading a generative writing workshop in Civita di Bagnoregio with my writerly friend, Sharon (!!!) If you’re thinking about Italy and writing (and wine?), I have just the thing for you!
Context: There will be a “Save the Date” blog post to come (cough: June 22) and a page on my website will appear with more detailed information.
Confession: The real reason behind me blabbing the news now (beyond my excitement) is that the notion of leading a workshop, particularly in Civita, where my own creative practice started, has me thinking about the philosophies I’ve developed about writing, which I will share as part of the experience.
This spring, I’ve taken several Hugo House classes (I just came from one an hour ago), which is what I did to prepare before my residency in Civita. I have been studying at Hugo House since 2009; next summer—June of 2020—will make it a decade for Civita and a decade since I invoked my first creative Pause (hi Maggie!) Each of these anniversaries makes me think about the interlocking roles of journey, risk, collaboration, time and place in creative practice. It took all five for me to take my writing seriously.
Now, when I listen to the questions of fellow classmates, I pick up on the same uncertainty I used to feel when I was first finding my way. The questions of people in their first 10,000 hours. Questions about how to make X do Y. Forcing rather than allowing. Only in hearing my peers struggle do I realize that I have different questions now, a decade later. I don’t know everything (far from it) but, in ten years, I have figured out something, and I think it’s worth sharing.
More than that, I look forward to this incredibly poetic homecoming to a stunning Italian hill town that stole (and restored) my heart. The two months I spent in Civita were some of the most profound and memorable of my whole life. Travel is transformational, yes, but Civita is a special place steeped in old magics, with plenty of potency yet to share.
More to come….
In the meantime (speaking of philosophy), you can read my post on Medium.com about failure and rejection:
Recently, a writer friend asked about my relationship with artistic failure and rejection. He was collecting advice from fellow practitioners to share with his students in a creative writing MFA program.
His request started with the questions students always want answers to: What has been your most significant artistic failure and what effect has it had on your work today?
As artists, I think we’re always on the lookout for grand artistic failure — failure with a capital F — but the truth is, significant artistic failure calls for significant risk, and that is rare. After all these years, I think the only real failure is the failure to make art……..