Not unlike writing a poem, it was an encounter with the variability, opportunity, and exhaustion of meaning that haunts every word. How to work around and with all the connotations of language and land on something just right.
It made me consider, from multiple angles, what I really have to offer. In a city where there is a writing workshop opportunity of some kind every week and in every neighborhood, why is it that I still feel compelled to add something new to the space?
Well, it's because these workshops are going to be a little bit different.
Writing isn't about sitting down with a loved cat and a hot cup of tea close by, an occasional pensive look flitting across the writer's otherwise serene face as they gracefully move a hand-carved pen across a page in their prized journal.
It's Part Mad Scientist
It's showing up to the page each time to try, to be curious, to experiment with the known, to speculate about the unknown, to take risks, and then sit back and look at what happened. To be quizzical and analytical without stifling the impulse to try something new.
It's an experience of passion that won't be ignored and doesn't care if your hair is standing on end or not.
It's Part Craftsman
It's starting with a rough idea and rough materials, and working diligently over time to smooth some edges and sharpen others. It's learning to operate tools and apply techniques. It's the making of something, the shaping of something, the diligence to show up in the workshop every day and create.
It's Part Kid on a Playground
It's the gleeful practice of showing up to the playground and feeling your stomach drop a bit when you pump the swing so high you are practically parallel to the ground. It's giving permission to the kid inside you who still wants to climb into a sandbox and dig around in the dirt and play for a while. It's saying to yourself, "Next time, I'll make it all the way across the monkey bars by myself".
It's Practice Without the Perfect
It's a chance to interact with our writing, to hone our attention in particular ways, to apply a curious lens, an objective lens, and to be supported in our quest to become better writers. It's about showing up on a consistent basis to keep working at our craft, to see what we can learn from an exercise, to be inspired by an invitation to think about language in a new way.
I don't know another workshop series that's formulated in this particular way.
For a title, I settled something that gets at the heart of making, the arduous artist's process of working at something a little bit each day.
Sharpen Your Tools. Shape Your Writing.
A recurring workshop series, focused around a specific theme each month. Each workshop will include guided exercises, suggestions to engage language in particular ways, and a chance to expand the boundaries of your own writing practice. There are two opportunities to attend each month.
2nd Monday Afternoons: February 9th, 1-3PM @ Shout House (SE Portland)
3rd Wednesday Evenings: February 18th, 6:30-8:30PM @ Knott Street Health Center (NE Portland)
Learn more & register for a workshop here.
The photos are by William Warby and used in accordance with Creative Commons Licensing Laws.