The support from my friends, family, and primarily my coworkers with regards to my current writing goals has been over-the-top generous lately. One coworker offered to switch shifts with me so I didn’t have to rush back to Eugene for work after attending Lidia Yuknavitch’s writer’s workshop in Portland on Tuesday evenings. Because of my coworker’s generosity, I can chat after the workshop with my new writer friends or get lost driving in the big city (which is what I did after this first workshop).
Given all the support I’m being flooded with lately–and the fact that I recently learned some of my coworkers actually follow my blog–I figured I’d share a post about the things I’m learning in the workshop: pearls of wisdom straight from the pretty, wide mouth of Oregon’s epic author, Lidia Yuknavitch (hint: links to one of Lidia’s powerful essays). Check. It. Out. What I love (a good example is the said essay) is how Lidia addresses social issues and shouts out loud for change while using primarily her personal experience and memoir. Lidia’s past is a sopping wet rag and she’s twisted it and pulled it until the information and insights have poured out of it like warm water. And she intends to use every last drop. How much of your past have you used to change the world? If you’re like me–not enough. There’ve been a lot of lessons learned, no? Write about ’em.
Pearls (note: these are Lidia’s ideas interpreted by me–not her exact quotes):
- A memoir can be a bunch of essay’s stitched together. In fact–it’s nearly gotta be, one doesn’t tackle a memoir in one swift movement. That’s a lot to take on. Write scenes, then stitch ’em together.
- “Stitching” is a tough chore indeed, but it can be done.
- Overwrite your memoir–Lidia says it was only through majorly overwriting that she found the pieces that needed to be in the book.
- If there’s a story that’s really scary for you to write (i.e. too revealing, too painful, too bold) for godsakes write exactly that.
- The voices you hear in your head are your friends. Unless they start to tell you to do bad things, or are highly obnoxious or dangerous sounding in which case maybe you need to see somebody about getting properly medicated and assessed.
- Fear, irritability, sadness, desperation…if you are experiencing these feelings, it is an excellent time to write (see, there’s always a bright side!)
- It’s never too late to start the writing career you’ve always dreamed about. It’s never too late to start doing any of the things you’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s never too late. It’s never too late. Lidia knows from experience.
Were these pearls useful for you? Hopefully they reinforced some of the wisdom you already had but forgot, like “it’s never too late” or “write when you’re sad”. For me, as a writer, I need daily reminders of these facts. And I can’t always rely on myself for that. It’s nice to have Lidia around to give me permission. Permission to follow my crazy dreams. Permission to mess up along the way. Permission to tell the world my dirty little secrets. Writing with Lidia is very freeing, I’m very much in tune with her, we’re marching to the same drum, or the same marching band at least. I like her. I hope she likes me too. I bit my tongue a lot at the first sesh but I suspect I’ll start fighting for her attention more in the upcoming weeks. I only have 3 more sessions with the Goddess after all…