It’s midnight, Saturday morning and I just made it back from Los Angeles. I attended my 2nd Big Island Writers Workshop with Beth Bornstein Dunnington yesterday. I confessed to a couple of good friends that I was afraid and intimidated about going to this one. You see, these workshops are not about teaching us to write or critiquing what we do write. It’s about discovering the stories within us and bringing them forth. Beth gives us a group of 10 prompts, 10 words or verbs and 3 sentences to choose from, then gives us 45 minutes to an hour to go to another part of the house or property to write. When the time is up, we come back together in a circle and we read our stories out loud to the group. When everyone is done reading their stories, we have what’s called a “speak back” session. This is where the writers recite back pieces and parts of anyone’s stories that resonate with them. It’s powerful what stands out for people and to hear what they speak back. It’s so safe, so sacred, and so unconditionally supportive. The workshop is from 10 am to 6 pm with a break for lunch at 2 pm so we get 3-4 pieces written in the course of a day.
At the first workshop in January, I went deep with the second prompt and I was surprised at the stories I discovered in each of Beth’s group of prompts. I was afraid I wouldn’t have what it took to go deeper or if I’d write as well as the first time. Plus I was intimidated when I found out this workshop would be at the home of actress, Catherine Bach. You might remember her from her most famous role as Daisy Duke on the tv show Dukes of Hazard. So I was battling some fear and anxiety to the point that my head was telling me I shouldn’t go. Thank God I don’t listen to my fear anymore. First of all, Catherine is beautiful, gracious, down-to-earth and a lovely person. Her home is amazing and there were great places to write on her property. I went to an outdoor upper garden/grotto area that was so peaceful with the sound of a running water feature in her backyard. It was the perfect spot to write. Oh, and my writing? No problem with quality or depth, AT ALL. The first prompt is the shortest writing time (25 minutes today) is a warm up. That also usually one or two prompts. Today’s was “What’s Underneath The Story”. For my second piece, from 23 prompts I chose to write “Here’s The Thing I Gave Away That I’d Like Back”. I ended up writing about something I hadn’t thought or spoken of in decades. It was a deep memory and an intense story which provoked fierce emotions.
We took a break for lunch after the second set of prompts. One of the women at today’s workshop had also attended the same I one I did in January. We were Facebook friends and she is a television journalist. When the group started into Catherine’s kitchen for lunch, she and I hugged over my second story. She then asked if I’d be interested in coming on to her show (a podcast with CNN) to talk about my blog (THIS BLOG!) and how I am working on changing my life. I gotta tell ya, I was still recovering from the emotion of sharing my story, so I was seriously shocked at her question. She said she’d wanted to ask me at the first workshop in January, but she didn’t know me as well and she thought it might be weird. But she was adamant that she definitely still wants to do it. Wow. Not sure exactly when that will happen, but I’ll keep ya posted.
From the second group of 23 prompts, I choose to write two pieces. The first piece involved writing on these prompts: “What I want my child to know”, “Addiction”,”Recovery”, and “When you look at me can you see that…”. The second piece involved writing on prompt, “Something Else About My Grandmother”. At the beginning of this morning’s workshop, Beth told us today’s theme was “Finding Our Stories”. Today was about finding faith in my stories and a growing faith in my voice. Sometimes, well many times really, I wonder if this blog is really getting out into the world enough. And if it is, is it a good enough message that I am delivering. Then there are days like today when walking through my fear IS building my brave and God shows up big time as I continue to answer His Call.