Thursday, April 28, 2011

Light Spirits

Last night, I taught a Scratching On Paper writing workshop at our local library. Taught doesn't feel quite right. Shared some thoughts on writing sounds better. I shared. We wrote. Some people read aloud. We listened. It was a good crowd. I wanted to make eye contact with everyone but a big post dissected the room so I walked from side to side, like in a tennis match. I wanted to hear everyone's pieces too. But there were too many of us for that. We would've had to have a sleep-over to hear everyone read.

Making eye contact and listening to everyone is not easy to do. 

I try hard.

But I am circling my writing in this moment. What I want to say is how great it was that so many people came out with notebooks and pens to write under the white fluorescent lights. 

There was Hu (without the gh) in his suit and bow tie. Iretha with an I, not an A, in her black and white dress. Larry. Mike. Denise.Yvonne. Donna. Mary and her daughter, Lisa. Tom and Rosemary - to name a few.

"Do you ever get stuck, frozen with your pen hovering over the page? What do you do about that?" Dale asked.
"Write I don't know what to write, I don't know what to write until something pops up. Even if you have to fill three pages. It's okay. You'll get un-frozen," I said.

I came home wiped out from all the adrenaline coursing through my veins. Speaking to large groups does this. It's a huge rush. But afterwards, I'm completely spent. Sometimes, later, comes the analysis, the going over. Small mind (aka EGO) steps in and wants to have a few words with me. Share a few pointers about how to do it better next time.

We wrote about our critics last night. Mine is always changing. Last night, she showed up on the paper as Jean. Jean was my grandmother's name. My cousin's too. It's a beautiful name. Two beautiful women. Why Jean? I don't know.

Jean is petite, wears a push-up underwire bra, has very straight white teeth. She follows me around the house, plumping pillows, pushing in kitchen chairs, re-folding dish towels.

When I sit down at my computer, she sighs, loudly. And then bends over to straighten the fringe on the carpet. Jean is forever straightening the fringe on the carpet.

Fortunately, Jean doesn't come around as much anymore.

That's what I wrote last night. That she doesn't come around much anymore. But she's been around most of today, straightening and folding and nipping at my heels. Whispering about how I could have done things differently, maybe not rushed so much at the end.

Even after I received the loveliest emails from participants thanking me for the evening, you are a light spirit. you lifted mine. thanks, for some reason I am letting Jean get the best of me today. 

It's all so tender, this being human. And writing is so vulnerable, even if it never sees the light of day. Here's to the writers who came out last night to sit under the bright lights and write in community.

Thank you.

You are light spirits. You lifted mine.


  1. I wish I could kick Jean out of your house (out of your life). BUT, having a jean of my own, I've found that paying no heed to that critic and carrying on listening to the supporters and to my own (self-loving) voice, while being a nail biting effort, is so empowering. Let her straighten the rug one last time and show her to the door. Remember, we will be good with our time here, Jean can't help you do that. :) Be free of the critic when she doesn't serve a purpose.

  2. and WHOA what a picture. Gorgeous flowers. My nose is itching to stick itself in the purple haze and get a whiff of that wonderful essence

  3. Jean's okay. I think she means well. Or she just can't help herself. I just got that when I finished writing this. The critic is just a scaredy-cat, trying to make everything orderly inside me...which is a bit like "herding cats".

    This is what I know. Writing that little ditty made me see. And seeing lifts me up, clears the fog. And remembering all those beautiful faces last night, bent over their notebooks is why I do this to begin with.

    I am good with my time here.
    I am good with my time here.
    xoxo b