Sunday, April 12, 2015

See You in Sisters

For some reason this year, I'm teaching at a number of conferences and workshops. I began writing after reading tons of books about writing. Some of it must have seeped into my fingers as I began writing stories that got critical acclaim despite not knowing what I was doing. Somehow the stories flowed and readers found them. Not long after the second and third books, I got asked to teach. I resisted but eventually, shaking in my boots, really, I offered workshops on silencing negative voices (relying on my mental health training) and then branched into subjects like writing about Native Americans when you aren't one and still later, how to do research. These were safe subjects I thought I could describe and offer helpful encouragement to others.  A surprise occurred: I began delighting in listening to students and learning from them.

Then like a spring seeping in the desert I realized I understood why I did certain things. That was followed by realizing I could tell others why I broke up the dialogue as I did or why the first paragraph was so important. (Shakespeare told the meaning of a story within the first paragraph, by the way. Often in the first sentence.  Remember Romeo and Juliet?  That begins with "Two houses." Brilliant). What I'd been doing and reading and writing could be conveyed to others. My appreciation for teachers soared as I discovered that they did that sort of thing all the time!

I also attended writing workshops and still do.  I'm signed up for one in October during Women Writing the West. In August when I keynote and teach at Oregon Christian Writer's Conference, I'll sit in on other workshops about writing. At the Southwest Washington Writer's conference in September, I plan to slip into other workshops when I'm not teaching three of my own! I always learn something.

In April, I agreed to teach a memoir class in beautiful Burns, Oregon. I've always enjoyed reading memoir and I wrote one, my first book, Homestead, so you'd think I'd know how. But despite reading many and writing my own and creating a devotional as a memoir as well, I find myself feeling a little anxious.  But preparing has also forced me think about how I did what I did in Homestead and Promises of Hope for Difficult Times and how that structure can ground a memoir that someone else might decide to write. So I'm hopeful I'll have something to offer.

For seven years now I've also been teaching writing with Bob Welch through Beachside Writers. I obsess the week before, worry that I'll have nothing to convey. But then the days come and I see those eager faces and we begin and I'm once again in awe of the power of words to move me, inspire me, help me see the world through a wider lens and I happily do my best to pass on what works for me to others.

In June Bob and I will teach again a new format, a 1.5 day workshop with an evening read aloud opportunities. (June 4-5).  It's in Sisters, OR, home of one of the greatest quilt shows in the country where I'll be signing in July. Paulina Springs Bookstore serves the citizenry there and there are many readers in that community.  Many would be writers live there as well. It's a weekend when people might be celebrating graduations or attending weddings. But I'm hopeful there'll be some stalwart souls ready to take their next steps in telling the stories that won't let them go. I'm preparing some great writing prompts and plan to offer insights that writers can evaluate and incorporate to make their own. Bob always delivers unique and inspirational sessions. It could be a great Father's Day gift to give that guy in your life - and since it's after Mother's Day,  you could gift the moms in your world a couple of days away in Central Oregon discovering how to tell her story.  It could be the gift that starts them on their next career as a story-teller.

Bob, an award-winning author, is fond of saying that to be a writer means you believe you have something to say and you're humble enough to let others help you say it better. That's what Beachside Sisters is all about. I hope you'll give it a try. I need more writers to teach me!

For more information and registration go here.  See you in  Sisters!
   


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