Monday, November 22, 2010

Transformative Experiences That End with Frozen Pizza

I had a writing class yesterday. It was the first class I'd had since my college days. It may be the last writing class I'll have for a while.

The instructor had no specific structure for the class, instead wanted to shape the class around the class members' hopes and desires for the class. ( But, oh, I do like my structure.) With 12 different people in the class at very different stages in their writing and with half the class focused on "looking for inspiration to write," it proved that the class had no common goal. I wanted to hone a skill that I use to support myself while it seemed like the rest of the class was searching for some sort "transformative" experience.
When the class started out with a sweetgrass smudge burning ceremony, I thought I might have made a terrible, terrible mistake in signing up for the class. I was sitting in a room full of people who wanted to talk about totem spirits and the souls of rocks, who were so busy looking for inspiration to write, that they didn't hardly write at all. I'm not trying to bash thoughtful (and slightly holistic) movements through the world, I'm just trying to explain that there was dissonance between what I'd hoped for and what I was getting. I had hoped the day would bring several practical writing exercises, a chance for feedback and growth, and some insight into how to look at things a little differently. Instead, we spent a good two hours talking about dramatic structure (which the instructor acknowledged would be redundant for any English majors in the room), then we each wrote a 200 word story, discussed each person's little piece as a group and that was the eight hour class.

I felt a little letdown. I wondered if there really was a reason why I'd spend eight hours in town on a snowy Sunday afternoon when I could been at home, blogging, sending out query letters, and searching for an agent for my novel.

But another local in the class, who I've bumped into a couple times back when we were going down to trivia every Thursday night last winter, stopped me at the end of the class. It turns out we were both homeschooled for the majority of our elementary and secondary school days and now we both freelance --  he in photography, me in writing --  honestly, not just because we are social awkward and afraid of actually interacting with people.


"Hey, if you ever want to get together this winter and going skiing or snowshoeing or skating, let me know," he said."I could use someone to commiserate about the freelance life with." 

We both have wonderful significant others who both work out of the home and who support us in every way possible, but sometimes it's hard to explain how the walls of the cabin start to move closer and closer together during the cold, dark winter days when you work from home all day.

"That would be great," I said.

On the way out of town, Andy stopped to get gas. I ran inside to grab some (I'd somehow neglected to drink any coffee yesterday morning and that was just not helping matters.)  And came out with a frozen pizza. Andy had eaten all the leftovers in the fridge the night before and I was in no mood for cooking. Especially since the snowy weather was going to make our hour-long trip back to the cabin even longer. 
 Maybe my totem spirit is Italian food. . . . .


This morning there was email waiting in my inbox from my fellow freelancer, subject line: "social retards."


Maybe I didn't get what I was looking for yesterday. But I did get what I needed.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, I can relate to that. Early Summer I strated a pilgrimage of 1400miles, the Way of St James, with specific questions. None of them got answerd, but I had all what I needed. I enjoy your totem spirit too, just not frozen ;-) Have a wonderful day up in the woods.
    Being home bound after surgery I fight cabin fever already. Hence working form home can be more difficult only.
    Have a glorious start into your week!

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  2. Ada, this post was so funny I read it out loud to my family! Somehow, it was pretty apparent to me that you weren't into sage smudging (at least at writing workshops).
    I once went to an intensive 6 hour storytelling workshop from a big name storyteller. I was in college and rather poor and this was a decent expense. He began by having all 20 of us introduce ourselves and share why we loved storytelling... 3 hours later we stopped for lunch. The first half was completely storytellers talking about themselves!!! I was Furious! However, I learned a lot about how to never lead a workshop myself, and I think of it every time I teach anything.

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