.…Help us to bring darkness into the light,
To lift out the pain, the anger,
Where it can be seen for what it is—
The balance-wheel for our vulnerable, aching love.
Put the wild hunger where it belongs,
Within the act of creation…
May Sarton, Without Darkness, Without Light…An Invocation to Kali
A community of women writers gathered together in Austin, TX for the Story Circle Writing Conference.
First, this is what happens when a women’s writing community flocks to a single hotel—and the hotel management is kind enough to respond beautifully, and convert the Men’s bathroom into another Women’s for the duration of the conference. Bravo!
I was especially grateful for this time, as many of the women I’ve known purely through our internet community and had never met in-person. What a gift to now have faces and spirits to accompany the names on our emails! These days were a time of deep community, and deep laughter and love, deep wisdom on the craft and business of writing:
Brooke Warner, of She Writes Press, kicked off our time together with her insights on the Five C’s of writing:
1) Community: Support one another and thrive. Work and women thrive in community.
2) Commitment: Page after page. A time will come for everyone.
3) Championing: Champion your writing, champion other writers.
4) Claiming: We have to claim. No one will give you time to write.
5) Courage: Listen to the calling.
“Author your story, author your life. This is why women need a writing space of their own.”
Story Shaper, Debra Winegarten, author of Oveta Culp Hobby and a book of poetry (among many other books) with one of the best titles ever There’s Jews in Texas? shared her passion for writing and life by starting her presentation with all of our dancing to It’s all about those Books.
One of the ways Debra lives her passion for writing, books, and life is her ritual of Outrageous Requests, which she makes weekly. These requests have opened previously only imagined doors within the writing world.
One of my great take-aways from this conference is to fold this rhythm into my own writing life. I’ll keep you posted this. Perhaps you might join me.
Susan J. Tweit and I shared our ideas and experiences with “Character as Place” something we are both passionate about. Here is the presentation I promised to include: Place as Character. Story Circle 2016.
Susan and I curled up over hot chocolate and cafe latte to review the final edits of our essay, “Mother Tongues: Two Writers Explore the Words and Cultures that Shape their Connection to Place” in the upcoming issue of Langscape.
Story Circle creator, and New York Times bestselling author, Susan Wittig Albert spoke of the importance of women writing together in community, of the gender bias in the publishing industry. “This bias goes back centuries. Women’s voices have not been as important as men’s throughout history. Women write in community. Women share life stories. These life stories and women’s writing has historically not been valued by the publishing industry.
Women authors receive letters from publishers with feedback such as, ‘This novel would be better with a male protagonist.’ When you look at the statistics of winners of the Pulitzer, the Booker, they are overwhelmingly male. The gender bias extends to book reviews, contests, job opportunities within publishing. Women writers need more champions.”
Thus, Albert created Story Circle, a community that supports and connects women writers. “We thrive in community, in collaboration. We are literary citizens. Communities work best when all play the part of givers, as well as receivers. We do this by paying it forward.”
Speaking of paying it forward, I have to share a wonderful class starting soon, “Consider Birds: Trading Anxiety for Peace of Mind” taught by Jodi Shaw. Meadowlark will be featured in the course and I get to pop in virtually via video to be a part of the class. Jodi is an incredible artist and inspirer.
She is currently at work on a piece inspired by “song” in Meadowlark. Jodi wrote, “The altered guitar is inspired by a passage in Dawn Wink’s novel Meadowlark between the heroine Grace and her dear friend Daisy. It is all about living your song, which to me means being true to who you are. It celebrates song, authenticity, and the South Dakota prairie.”I can’t wait to see what she creates. Jodi creates magic, beauty, and inspiration through her work.
I returned to Santa Fe to write, run, and muse on all. Let’s all go out and pay it forward, make outrageous requests, champion yourself and others—and listen to the soul of the land.