beginnings, endings & all the stuff in the middle

Today is Yva’s birthday, she is two years old today. She is taking a nap, right now, but today has been quiet in general for her because we decided to celebrate on Monday since Jack was going to be away this weekend. This morning we went to the park, hung out at the library a bit, then we came home and ate lunch together. I had signed up for a free writer’s workshop that I thought was last Saturday, but it ended up being at one o’clock today, so Maman stayed with Yva while I was gone, which she was happy about.

The workshop was wonderful, basically the teacher’s premise (her name is Barbara Baig) is that in many skilled activities, like athletics and music, the focus of learning is on the practice and that learning is not confused with performance, as so often happens in writing.  Barbara teaches at Leslie and has come up with a curriculum that breaks learning to write up into discrete skills that are then practiced, namely, a) coming up with ideas and material for your writing b) making a relationship with your readers and c) craft skills- how does your chosen genera work and how to choose words and come up with powerful sentences. Since time was limited she focused mainly on the first skill, coming up with topics. We did three separate exercises that nobody was required to read- it was just for our own edification and in keeping with the idea of the exercises not being about performance. The three exercises were, a) freewriting to release the creative mind from the strangle hold the critical mind often has on it, b) using questioning about a topic to come up with additional way one can expand what they are writing and lastly c) a sensory writing exercise that enables the student to be able to visualize what they are writing about so it will be realistic.

Not only were all three exercises excellent, Barbara made a number of other suggestions that were particularly helpful to me- one was to not look at my screen while I am doing free writing and the other was that perhaps I was more of a story teller than an immediate action relater. The last was particularly helpful because I have felt a great deal of pressure (from myself) to write as if I were writing for a screen play or a movie.  Not that you would necessarily know that here.

She also suggested that people start a writer’s group which was perfect! I had just been talking about getting a writer’s group together but I didn’t want it based on the traditional writers groups that get together and critique each other’s work- this is better than even I was imagining- I wish I had had a checkbook so I could have bought a book from her at the spot! But, anyway, not only did I get together with a couple of women who want to start a writer’s group, but I also made a connection for doing someone’s garden next year for them! I am totally thrilled.

So tonight, after Yva wakes up, my sister and her family and Yva and I are all going to a potluck, which will be fun. I can’t help reflecting how fresh and new Yva’s life is since my Grandpere died this year. I think of her on his pillow kissing him before he died and I was glad she knew him and he her. They say true character comes out at the end and if so, he was amazing. He was skeletal, confined to his bed, unable to hear or see hardly anything and yet he was making jokes and telling me to make sure that the strawberries I brought him were washed.  Everyone had lovely stories to tell about him at the funeral and my grandmother said she wanted it to be a celebration of his life and wore raspberry to it. They were high school sweethearts. I hope I feel that I have lived with as much grace at the end of my life. My great-grandmother, who Yva was named after, was always telling jokes. I wore her lace flapper dress to my prom and my mother asked her where she wore it and she said, “Oh, probably blackberrying.”

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2 Responses to “beginnings, endings & all the stuff in the middle”

  1. This is fun! You write well and refreshingly. Like raspberries in cream. I am on vacation!!! Maybe I can join your writer’s group from here. Let me know. I do not do Facebook, but a writer’s group would be fun, tho I’m sure my participation would be sporatic, what with work & all. I could write about my reusableness, past, & the next 70 years. Did you know that when I was a girl I used to ride my bike in the wind?

    • Thank you so much! I would love it if you joined, I’ll tell you when we get together next and what we are doing.
      Yay! Vacation is a good place to be-are you doing something special with your time or just enjoying being at home?
      I had heard about your rollerskating but not riding with the wind- it sounds lovely. Did you use your coat as a sail? Someone told me that children here used to make iceboats and used the wind to sail on the lakes.

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