For many many years I’ve been fortunate enough to practice something called Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. Each Friday morning when we’re in session I pack up my notebook and drive across the Bay Bridge to Alameda where myself and a handful of other women gather around her dining room table and spend two hours in practice.
I wish every woman in every community had a regular Wild Writing group. It feeds such a potent mix of hungers. The hunger for connection, for truth, for hearing your own voice, for laughter, for space and slowing down, for time away from screens, for emotional release, for inspiration and new discovery. For me, it’s often been a powerful support to my mental health. I could go on.
For some time now I’ve felt the call to lead my own group in my own version of this practice and so I am.
I’m calling it Sift: a writing practice for being human.
Let me tell you a little bit about what this practice looks like and who I’m inviting to join me.
First off, this is, right now, just for women in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’ll be meeting in-person at my home.
I have space for 8 women in total. [NOTE: ALL SPACES HAVE BEEN RESERVED, EMAIL TO GET ON THE WAITING LIST FOR THIS AND FUTURE GROUPS]
We’ll meet Wednesdays September 6th – October 11th (side note: the last week we’ll actually meet on a Tuesday, October 10th) from 10 AM to noon. Yes, for now, this is for folks with flexible weekday schedules.
This is a practice. Like yoga or painting, it’s about showing up and being willing meet yourself where you are.
This is not for people who want to be better writers (though you can want that too), it’s not for professional writers (though you can be that too), it’s not really about the writing at all. It’s about what this practice helps us access and about doing it together. You need no prior experience to participate. Just a willingness to show up and be honest.
Personally, I practice to tell the truth, to be human with other humans, to hear my stories, to make sense of myself and the world around me, to make space for my contradictions, to find the words, to reveal, to relax, and to be a little messy.
The practice essentially goes like this:
You’ll arrive. Get a cup of tea. Settle in.
I’ll read a poem and when I’m done I’ll pick a line or two for us to use as our writing prompt.
Then we’ll write, unedited, pen to paper, not stopping for 10 to 20 minutes. We don’t try to sound smart. We don’t try to write well. This practice serves to help us get around our perfectionist and performer.
When the time is up we go around the table (myself included) and read our writing. No feedback is given. We don’t discuss what’s written. We just witness each other. Sometimes there is laughter. Sometimes there are tears. It’s all welcome.
Then we repeat.
If it sounds simple, it is. It’s also profound.
If it sounds exhilarating but also scary. You’re not alone.
The cost to participate for the six weeks during this initial run is $200.
If you want to reserve your spot at the table send me an email expressing your interest and I’ll send you an invoice for your deposit. [NOTE: ALL SPACES HAVE BEEN RESERVED, EMAIL TO GET ON THE WAITING LIST]
If you don’t live in the Bay Area, Laurie, my brilliant teacher, teaches Wild Writing online in small groups and it’s very powerful in that format too.
Like clockwork, on the full moon, I have insomnia.
This past week when the sky was aglow and the lunar calendar was turning over a page I had an urge to listen to spoken word poetry.
From about two a.m. to five I drank up some of the most stirring orations I’ve ever heard. I love this slam-ing medium of communication. It feels like a river that runs below our surface of striving. When a spoken word poet hits their flow the performance piece fades away and it’s just raw, rolling emotive breath and sound.
Here are a group of talented, brave poetic women just saying it. Perhaps it’ll keep you company during your next moon-lit awakening.
Whoa line: “…still hoping that the mortician finds us fuckable and attractive…”
Whoa line: “…deny myself the right to be shown myself…”
Whoa line: “…Eve was made naked, no makeup, no weave…”
Whoa line: “…The body is not to be prayed for, it’s to be prayed to…”
Whoa line: “…’cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
Whoa line: “Dear Cosmo: Fuck you! I will not take your sex tips on how to please a man you do not think my body will ever be worthy of.”
Whoa line: “I have been taught to grow in.”
Whoa line: “…women who will prowl 30 stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy”
Whoa line: “When they call you full of yourself”, say, “Yes.”
Whoa line: “…Van Gogh’s irregularities outweigh clean lines and clarity…”
Whoa line: “…Where are the words for the rest of me?”
Whoa line: “…It’s terrifying to have had to learn first not who I was but how I was seen…”
I share a garden courtyard with the other tenants in my building. Our landlady grows apples, Meyer lemons, herbs, and tomatoes for all to enjoy. It’s a first-come thing so if you happen to be out there on a day when things are ripe, happy picking.
Last week I was walking by a tomato plant and thought to myself, what if those pale, redish-greenish tomatoes are ripe? What if they are a variety that doesn’t ever get bright red? Popping on one in a mouth I tasted that I was correct.
I didn’t have a way to carry the harvest with me other than to use my shirt as a collection basket. As I piled them atop each other I thought that I was enjoying the bounty in all likelihood because others passed the fruit up as being unripe.
Standing in my kitchen I poured a little pile of flakey salt into a bowl and dunked each tomato in it before eating them. Still beaded with water from being washed the salt clung nicely and crunched as I bit down.
These covertly ripe tomatoes had me approach my summer blues in a new way. I began to be inside my funk as if the entire experience was ripe for the picking. This is the poem that emerged.
We forget that gray clouds are just wet fruit for parched orchards.
We forget that a misplaced book is simply a moment ripe for being found.
And an unripe tomato is ripe to be ready in it’s own time.
All things lead home. All streams lead to the ocean. Everything is ripening.
That argument, the one where you didn’t wear your big girl pants and neither were heard or seen. That is the ripest.
The soft pooling of our abdomen is ripe for welcome.
The days when nothing calls to us are ripe for naps, wandering, and not knowing.
Others before have left word that even the most unjust, light-lacking times are ripe if we choose to pluck the fruit before us.
Everything is ripening.
Everything is ripe.
This week during Wild Writing we were given the prompt “clicking clicking” a taken from a Marie Howe poem. I admit though that I thought about naming it “This is Your Brain Online.”
We are to take the prompt and write, non-stop, for 15 minutes. We are to write quickly, pen not leaving the paper, so as to short-circuit our inner-cleverness and attempts to be ‘good’ writers.
What I wrote is true. What I wrote is not a ‘whoa is me’ whine. It’s not a complaint. It’s an extraction of my own monkey mind shared in service of all of our awakening.
I’m sharing it because I want to remind us all that we’re not so different from each other. I’m sharing it because I want to highlight the deafening noise so many of us choose to live with. I’m sharing it because I want to encourage all of us to take a stand against the draining of our ease.
what if you could watch someone’s internet use over their shoulder.
The clicking clicking
Another email inbox, in another browser.
Chrome. Safari. Oh and Firefox too, for Infusionsoft.
Then Pinterest and HuffPo for soothing and distraction.
Google Drive with three half written blog posts. Inspiration petering out into insecurity.
That YouTube video of the cute dog singing.
iMovie and the video you agreed to record for another’s e-course. Get the lighting right. Set the laptop on a stack of cookbooks.
Google calendar, when’s my next client? Where’s the time to write? Or take a nap?
What’s new on J.Crew?
Everyone’s Retweeting her piece, I should read it.
Paypal. Who do I owe? Who owes me?
Kaiser Permanente. Messaging Dr. Wang, I think my throat is sick again. When can I come in?
Do I have time to watch The Bachelor?
That David Leibovitz ginger cake recipe. I should get a shopping list together.
“Five Things You Should Take Off Your Site Right Now” Phew, I don’t have any of those.
Evites and Skype calls and hours lost in Photoshop and on Etsy.
He sends a link. I send one back. And so it goes.
Southwest. Got my ticket to Vegas. Should I get the others?
3 am. Can’t sleep. Lance Armstrong, with Spanish subtitles. The whole three hours.
Did anyone like my Instagram photo? Phone in one hand, the other resting on the keyboard.
Not really getting anywhere. Inbox at 50. Down to 30. Up to 44. There’s no winning.
Requests. Request. Requests.
Clients in need. Clients in fogs. Clients in joy.
An invitation to teach.
A reminder I’m late.
20 newsletters I never read.
a photo of my sister’s pregnant belly.
Amazon. Adding to my cart.
Moo.com is having a 25% off sale. Should I order? I don’t need anything.
A friend’s salacious email i’m bcc’d on.
The Milo Foundation. Who’s up for adoption? And Craigslist. What do houses cost?
Make the haircut appointment online. Cancel the haircut appointment online.
What’s really happening here?
Print by Mati Rose
i’m hungry for baking in slow motion and warm cookies dipped in whole milk.
i’m craving silliness and surrender, the kind that happens with friends when the world has worn us down and we play.
i deeply hunger to feel vital. to feel breathed. to feel anchored in this body. able to receive. pleasured in giving.
i hunger for moments of expansion. becoming an aunt. teaching in a foreign country. loving betterbigger.
i’m voracious for ease. soft bellies. fresh air wandering. the piercing silence of sabbath.
hair chopped short. perhaps. soon.
circle upon circle upon circle upon circle of women. well. fed. women.
this year. this new year. i am hungry to rise. i am hungry for more slurp-worthy noodles.
this year. i am hungry, like so often, for more, red. hot. lips.
i’m hungry for adele to offer fresh sounds. for beautiful collaborations with kindred powerhouses. for blessings on every check written and every dollar received.
i’m mad with hunger for all women to be free from violence.
i’m hungry for crispy roast chicken thighs. for breakfast porridge parties. for the continued releasing of shoulds and for the feast of wants.