Friday, November 13, 2015

Piratical Penmanship

Amidst working nonstop for days and days on end, intermingled with occasional social outings that tend to culminate in foolhardy hangover, I managed to at long last carve a creative engagement into my agenda last weekend. I signed up for a creative writing workshop months ago and managed to stave off students for a whole day and a half, a miracle in and of itself these days. 

I found this particular workshop through a meetup site I get frequent emails from, and once I looked into the details was very intrigued by the prospect. Friday would be focused on fiction, saturday poetry, and sunday for the purpose of sharing whatever fruits we had grown from our labor. I signed up for friday and sunday only, party because I knew I couldn't escape work that long, but also because I am very protective about my specific and rather silly brand of poem. Since I have never before engaged in a writing workshop of any kind, I was simultaneously excited and rather nervous to share my wordsmithery. The good news, however, is that when I finally paid attention to the address and arrived at the location (ten minutes late because I was just not paying attention to the metro stops), I realized that the bookshop we were instructed to find was in fact on a boat! Not that I am really a nautical gal, but my affinity for piracy is such that writing on a small ship on the Seine for the afternoon, abandoning all landlubbbers for the seafaring thoughts of a wandering dreamer, seemed just the ticket! I daintily boarded the vessel and found myself in the bowels of the cutest little bookstore imaginable. 

Since I certainly can't help but make a noticeable entrance, I frolicked into the little room of writers positioned in the rear of the bookboat and made my introductions. It was a small group, only about 7 of us, and we all jumped right on in to some writing exercises. We spent the morning developing characters we concocted by thinking of someone we saw on the street, either en route to the meeting or a day or two before. We discussed character, setting, dialogue, plot, and then in the afternoon we either proceeded with our new stories or worked on something we had brought from previous efforts. I decided to do the latter because I have had an idea brewing in my head for years now and I really wanted to find some way of propelling it forward. Though I was rather hesitant to share, I ended up delighted by people's feedback and support in finding some direction for my tale. 

It is always a bit of a crapshoot when sharing work with other artists. Under the best of circumstances, there is positive feedback, constructive criticism and truly appreciative support. Under other circumstances, there can be unhelpful comments, petty rivalries and envious subterfuge. Fortunately for me, I experienced the former in abundance. After our day's work, we all planned to have dinner together at an Ethiopian restaurant. Many of our party had actually traveled in from other cities and countries for the event, so it was a wonderful opportunity to try some new food, see a bit of the city, and also get to know each other outside of the workshop setting. It was such a friendly bunch that by sunday afternoon when we all shared our work back in the galley, we felt really comfortable and delighted in each other's successes. I think we are all happy to have met some fellow writers from around the globe and are truly looking forward to the next workshop at sea.

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