Writing Meetings

For some writers, being part of a WRITING GROUP is kind of risky. Who’s hearing your story? Who will stab you in the back and use a story without your permission? Is the feedback any good? Is everyone contributing the same amount of work? Did someone mistake the group for an onsite dating event? Etc. etc. etc.

I’ve had some encounters with these type of fears before. But I really do love writing groups. I think they are valuable and interesting and weird and above all – they usually have fun snacks. And that’s always a plus in my book.

However, in this industry (here in La-La Land), people are a bit more cautious with sharing their stories, and rightly so. You never know when your idea might show up in someone’s tv spec/episode/improv show/stand-up routine/open mic event/you name it — it lives here in Hollyweird.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to start WRITING MEETINGS. Which, unlike a WRITING GROUP — where everyone just looks at each other and people take turns explaining their plot and character, and in some cases (when texts are long) — talk about ONE person each week (or however many days you meet in a month) — no. A writing meeting has slightly less pressure for the writer to have a finished product; especially in the first few meetings. It involves a writer meeting another writer, or two or however many you can stand, and sit with them in a space of your choosing to write.

My friend and I have been meeting at a café for about a month now, and it’s been really rewarding. Because it’s a blocked time when I will sit my butt down and write. Also, she’s really on top of her sh*t, so when I see her tapping away at the computer it urges me to keep on going myself. Actually, it’s encouraging to have her there. And then if I have any questions, or if there’s a passage I want her to read – she does it and visa-versa. We’re right there when the moment of inspiration happens, and if we choose to – we can talk about it.

Personally, I have found that a WRITING MEETING is much more productive for me. It allows me time to write, to feel a little competitive (but mostly supportive and supported), and it also it gives me instant feedback.

I did not invent Writing Meetings — I’m sure some cave person did long long ago when storytelling because the rave with us human species. But I thought I should share.

If you are one of those frightened writers who needs a little privacy and motivation, get out and meet with someone. I think I will try meeting with non-writers to see what that enables in me next.

#LiveLOVEwrite

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Dinner, Authors, and Book Recommendation #2

Geek Love

Well Blog Land, a lot has happened since last I wrote. A friend of mine needed help at work. I went to help cover for her at a home near Tisdale Lake. Her boss needed to move boxes of books from his home to the garage. It seemed like an easy job, so I agreed to go. I am trying to save up for a camera and loans.

So I get there and it turns out, this boss of hers is a pretty prolific and well known writer who happens to teach at Cal. Not only that, but he lives in this cute place which is pretty much my dream home. Small house overlooking some water (at a safe distance in case of a tsunami, my second biggest fear btw). The house is small but big enough for love and life. There were book cases everywhere, and tall pointy Dutch ceilings. I walked in and instantly wanted to sit down and write.  I need to find my own space, I thought to myself.

He gives me a quick tour. He tells me a poet used to live there, and proceeds to introduce me to his multiple libraries around his home. It was the most incredible collection of books I had ever seen in a single home.   Needless to say he was getting rid of some of his babies (books) because of remodeling and changes to the house. I could tell he was having trouble parting with them, but I made sure to give him time. He pulled down the ones he wanted to keep while I collected the ones he left standing to put in boxes. The books ranged from critical theory to science fiction. He had an incredible fiction collection, including Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

I had a small break between my hours, and as he handed me some carrot juice all I could think was, man … what I wouldn’t do to be in your shoes. Seeing his lifestyle and his care for his babies reinforced the idea in me that without being well read you will not be very good at writing at all. There is a reason why this man is published and hangs out with amazing artists. He puts in the time. It was a small job in the end, but I walked away with a free book (compliments of the author) and a hunger for my own cottage in the woods someday.

Later on that evening I went to a dinner party. I was surprised to learn that a poet from South America was going to join us. Blog Land, you could not even imagine how stupid I looked all night. I could not stop smiling!  At the dinner party I ended up eating and talking with amazing dancers, artists, and writers. We talked about politics, being women, the power of art and how it can change society. All I kept thinking was, wow…this is my life right now and it’s pretty amazing.

I can’t wait to keep on learning more things from this town and its people. I wonder what amazing things await in my future.

 

HARLEM Halloween

I’ve been indoors for the past three days. Editing and writing to my California employers so that I won’t get fired. Hurricane Sandy came full force and stopped my plans, but New York has been nice to me. I love it here. The people, the food, the culture, the different languages, the surviving accents, the spirit of being a New Yorker. It’s great. The ability to say “Good evening” or “Buenas Tardes” to people and actually get a response…you know, like proper human beings? Yeah, they do that here. It’s great. Sometimes, Berkeley can be full of awkward people who don’t know how to say hi to each other.

Yesterday, my host and I were able to walk out for some ice cream. And today, we took an afternoon walk around Uptown Harlem. It was chilly out, but (thankfully) this part of Harlem wasn’t hit so bad. We still have electricity up here.

Today was great because I saw a guy dressed as Jason in front of a barber shop. He held a knife and eerie music from the soundtrack played in the background. A pretty solid Halloween, considering this place was just hit by a hurricane…cyclone?

Ameruca!

La Peña on Shattuck Blvd. & COuNTeRPULSE.org

Just a quick update regarding my last post:  I have two options with the writing partnership. Either (1) I write up a contract saying, HEYO–let’s get published and split the profit, or (2) Pay me up front per page and you can have the book. What do you think? I’m still debating it.

 * * * * * * * * * *

Anyways, this post is about a place I recently went to. It’s called La Peña. I was there with a group of performers, and the event was a potluck/creative writing workshop with a whole mess of people. Our facilitator was Marvin K. White, and the event was organized by dancer extraordinaire, Amara Tabor-Smith, and the non-profit organization, CounterPULSE.

Blogland—-it was so amazing being in a room with writers, non-writers, people, cooks, food enthusiasts, regular folks, Berkeley students, etc. We wrote on spoons, plates, cups, notebooks, and shared our recipes and meals with each other. It was the perfect hippie Berkeley moment, but with the bonus addition of Creative Writing.

I wanted to share some cool exercises we did as a group with Marvin K. White‘s guidance, of course.

1. Draw a line down the center of your page, and over the line start your prompt: “I come from a long line of…”

This exercise was fun because there was a range of possibilities.
Someone got deep into their history and roots and wrote about family.
I wrote, “I come from a long line of bullshitters…” and etc. etc. etc.
Try it, it’s fun.

2. Stone Soup Story. This one is tricky. You have to come up with 4 dry ingredients. 4 wet ingredients. Then you have to come up with how to prepare, how many people does it serve, and the name/purpose of the recipe.

People in the room got really creative with this one.
Someone wrote about high heals as one of their  dry ingredients,
and wet slushy sex as one of their wet ingredients. She ended the
whole thing with, “A recipe for disaster.” Everyone laughed.
And as writers out there know, you laugh when you can relate.

3. Since the whole event surrounded the potluck we had some cool exercises around our utensils. (1) On the spoon we wrote “Love tastes like…” , (2) on the knife we wrote about what cuts or divides us, (3) On our plate we wrote what feeds us, (4) On our napkin we wrote what protects us, or what can wipe our story away? (5) On our cups we wrote what do you thirst for? (6) And in the back of our plate we wrote the names of people who could not enjoy this meal with us.

 * * * * * * * * * *

One of the most important messages I got from Mr. White last night was to always do these fun games because it clears your mind, and after you clear your mind, you can write anything. Writing is a practice. After you write, look back at your words and investigate what these words mean. How do they connect with the world or community you are in? Why are you writing them? What is the history of a word? Etc. etc. etc.

The whole event surrounded and celebrated food. It was great. It was to commomerate Amara Tabor-Smith‘s dance show, which I have seen and totally recommend–OUR DAILY BREAD. Their show will be up again in La Peña on Shattuck Blvd. Come support these artists and check out this community space. It’s beautiful!

Long live Art.

Midnight Post 3 aka food for thought

You know that part in the book The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, written by the ever-fabulous Dr. Seuss, when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes? Well, it has happened. I have matured by three tiny levels tonight in a way I have never before. Okay, the truth is I’ve been on this “growing-up” kick for a while now, but tonight I feel like all the things I have been challenging through have been paying off. I would like to share some of these discoveries with you. Just know, that this is all based on my personal experiences. Everybody is different. But if it can help a few fellow artists out there, then good! So here’s the deal writers and artists alike:

1. Take your art seriously because if you don’t, nobody else will.

2. Be responsible. If you know events are coming up in just a few weeks – don’t be wimpy and do things the last minute. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Better to be over prepared then have things falling apart during your events. In fact, in the film industry (when I used to work in it) we had this saying, “Have a back-up for your back-up.” It’s no joke.

3. Don’t be a flake. Do not expect people to come to your music concerts, fundraisers, food events, screenings, readings when you do not invest into that person/community. Give more–take less, in the end it’s most rewarding. You develop as an artist, plus, the more things you go to — the more you get to network!   Get out of your comfort zone already.

4. Write your mom. It’s good karma. If you don’t have a mom, write someone dear to your heart who has seen you grow up and develop.

5. NEVER–and I mean NEVER FORGET TO SAY THANK YOU. To those who have helped you, supported you, stood by you, loved you while you were on your path to self-discovery as an artist. These are the people worth keeping around.

6. I’ve learned that the people I feel the most awkward/uncomfortable/defensive with — are the people I usually have the most in common with. Do not ignore yourself. Great work can come out of these awkward encounters sometimes.

7. It’s okay to have your downs, just as long as you appreciate them as much as your highs. I get very creative during my lows, so use that depressing time wisely peeps.

8. Remember that what you create, whether it is a piece of writing, a canvas full of paint, or a song — you are impacting some type of energy around you. This energy can be a single person. It can be a community. It can be the self. Be bold and brave, but know that there are always consequences to your creations.

In my short life, I have found that everything is balanced. Therefore, after something really bad happens — I look forward to something really good happening. And when something really good happens, I TRY to make peace with the likelihood of something bad happening. Because good and bad are irrelevant. It’s all about how you take it into your being and your creations as a writer/artist/performer/ etc. etc. etc.

Just know that the bad is just like the good: fairies, fantasies, and farts. Everything is ephemeral.

Long live Art.

Dear Artist

Dearest,

You interesting, colorful, humorous, strange, introverted, son of a queen—I am in love with your world. You see order in chaos, and lines in your zig zags. You, speaker of the now, living in the future and avoiding the rejections of the past—strong individual— you: you are my enemy and my friend. Collector of bottle caps, rusty nails, and sidewalk garbage that is always “the evolution of street art” –spray can tagger who lurks in the dark — midnight writer surfing through insomnia— can you please share your secrets? Sometimes, dearest, I think you are fiction itself. Sometimes, dearest, I think you are full of yourself. Sometimes, dearest, I can see all artists in you—writhing, wondering, waiting for the next message to deliver what we want to hear. Your stroke, your pencil, your keyboard, your fingers to push against the canvas of life and create the message that is bursting in us all. Tell us our message. Dearest, tell us with colors and letters what we already know. Give us confirmation. Say:  life is beautiful, and strange, and short, and for just a moment, take our breath away. Let us recognize ourselves in your piece, so that we may continue with our own journey. So that we too…can evolve. Artist, dearest, let me understand myself.

Sincerely,

LM