Thursday, February 17, 2011
The week my dad went back to the hospital for the last time, I was enrolled in a week-long writing workshop with our 2010 Writer Laureate, Zelda Lockhart. One day with her was enough to show me that she was an inspiring and innovative teacher.
I had to leave after Monday to go to Greensboro and never made it back to the workshop. I decided that I was going to find a way to work with Zelda again, and organized a weekend with her at my house. I put the word out and we ended up with eleven women.
Zelda asked us to bring a favorite book of poetry, a book of unposed photographs, and music. The first night we drew a museum of objects that represented various areas of our lives: obstacles, fears, inspirations, mentors, etc. We did a ten-minute free write, packed our stuff and ended for the night.
Saturday morning we started right in, reading our work from the previous night. One of Zelda's strengths is that she takes notes while we read and points out what she calls "opportunites" - places where we can expand our work.
Using randomly chosen words from our poetry books, photographs, and objects from our museum we wrote two more free-writes. I have some great raw material. I need constant inspiration for my writing to stay fresh. These workshops are crucial for that. Teachers like Zelda are vital to the process too.
I realized this weekend that my father's death has freed something in me. I was self-conscious of both my subject matter and ability. I worried that he would be offended by some of my stories, many of which have characters crafted around real people. Many of the characters are based on him.
Meeting with a magnificant facilitator like Zelda and an inspiring, talented group of women like those at my house is an awesome experience. I'm filled with gratitude for our two days together.