What a morning I had.
This is one of those mornings I am afraid to venture out into the world. It would be so easy to stay in bed and to not go out there, to hide away from other people and meaningful experiences possibly had.
What if I embarrass myself? What if I get lost? What if…what if…what if…
I have been reading this Canadian writer’s blog and her writing for a while now:
Last year I wanted to finally attend one of her author readings:
I wanted to meet her in person and to put a voice to the words I’d become so accustomed to reading.
This time I had the chance to learn from her by taking one of her workshops. I jumped at this chance frankly. Carrie Snyder is a writer who uses powerful images and all the best words to express so much of what life is all about. I wanted to get to know a fellow Canadian, someone who has had some success as a writer, but who was still fairly local. She doesn’t live all that far from me really.
She doesn’t call what this morning was a writing workshop. She says she prefers to look at it as a creativity workshop, using writing as the medium.
The room is fairly full, when we all make it into a conference room of an office building, the second floor of a building in the downtown area, above a fancy restaurant that doesn’t open until noon. Now that I know where to go, through the door in the entrance way and up a double flight of stairs, in through another door – I think I can relatively confidently find it on my own next time.
The number attending is more than a dozen. It was icy on the roads early this morning, but we all made it. I bring my laptop because I can’t find my cord to my braille display. This means I won’t be able to read back what I write today to the room, but it’s better than nothing.
Some days I don’t have it all figured out. There are those days where being visually impaired (blind), well it just sucks!
I want to be spontaneous and a discoverer of my inner thoughts, my deep well of creativity I want to tap. I want to be able to walk into that room with a beautiful notebook and a pen. I want to write by hand, as messy and unreadable as that might make me, but I can’t.
All that talk about accepting life and how it is is all well and good, but today I wish I could be without this limitation on my senses.
Of course, writing is all about the senses. I have my others.
I need a spot in the room near a electrical outlet. I come early so I can set up. The room begins to fill, as steadily other people who have signed up start arriving.
Carrie hasn’t forgotten my name since we met last year and with all the times I have commented on her blog since then.
There is one large conference table in the room and another table set against the wall. I sit by the wall, in the corner. It is going to be a bit crowded around the table, we discover, but that means it is me and one guy of the two guys who are in attendance, who sit at the table separate from the main one.
Why is it two guys to a dozen women at this creativity workshop? Don’t guys like to write?
I feel a bit out of place, being separate from most of the others. I am just glad the chairs are those office chairs on wheels, which allows me to turn to face everyone.
Carrie speaks very softly, but she is full of creativity and ideas. She has experience, not only as a writer, but teaching creative writing courses. That is how most writers make a living to supplement their own writing.
There are short introductions (surprising how many around this table don’t consider themselves a writer) and she reads us poems, one to start the morning off, the other left until the very end. These poems are meant to get us thinking and to open our minds up. This is not a critique group. We are just supposed to write, to not think too much, and to turn off our inner critics. I could definitely use some practice with this particular skill.
She tells us to write a list of ten cars or other vehicles we have known, have been in during our lives, something with a memory attached. I don’t know enough of how cars are spelled, different kinds, and I worry someone will read and see this. I need to stop being afraid of criticism. That’s not what today is about.
We have seven minutes for each chapter, she is calling them. She will be timing us. We must build on the car list. We must write, using our five senses, and dig deep into a memory or develop the writing from there.
There is no right or wrong here. I can’t do this incorrectly. I don’t know still, if fiction is my speed, so I will write. Mostly it’s memoir that comes from the typing I am doing in rapid succession.
I end up writing about my family’s old blue van, the one we drove to Florida in when I was in the second grade. I write about the bed on the floor, where the middle seat normally was. My mom made it, so we could sleep while we drove, but this is unheard of, considering modern safety requirements.
By Chapter Six I have traveled to Florida, told of how my mom’s map was sucked out the front window, how we visited Disney, and finally arriving at my favourite Sea World. I explain, from a child’s point of view, what I thought of the whales, but with a bit of my adult perspective on marine animals in captivity.
My dream was to have a killer whale as a pet, in a tank in my big back yard, at my house. Eight-year-old me starts to realize this will never happen.
They are to start a new page with the sound of the timer, at the end of every seven minutes. I hear the flipping of notebook pages, but all I can do is hit enter and go down a line or two.
She tells them to draw a spiral in between each. I don’t quite know what this would look like anymore, but I try to picture it as I hear their pens scribbling away. Carrie loves creativity, and is incorporating a tiny bit of art into the exercise. I miss art.
We all go around and read one of the chapters we’ve written. We aren’t to offer any comments or suggestions, but instead just thank the writer/reader for what they’ve just shared with us. I listen to all the different stories and bits of people’s lives, as it could be truth or fiction they are speaking. No rules, but Carrie did read a few rules about there being no rules. Go figure.
The two hours flies by. I am last. Carrie asks another woman, sitting nearby me, if she might read my chapter. She reads it well. I worry she won’t be able to read, that I’ve made many mistakes, but of course my computer would have already caught those. I am happy with how my writing sounds read aloud back to me and to the rest of this room. I haven’t always been able to say that about my writing. She reads the part where I included the first song lyrics that came to my mind, as we were all instructed to do. Somehow this fits in with the rest of the story we’ve written.
(See my About Me page for the lyrics of the song I thought of.)
I loved it. Even though I felt separate, like I often do in the world, and even being unable to write by hand – the morning was a success because I made the effort and had the experience. I wanted to learn from Carrie and I did.
Words. Glorious words.
Linda debates what she should write about, from a quiet hotel room, all by herself:
This is also another
the rules of which can be found