Island life

This is what the Madeline Island School for the Arts looks like.  It's well-cared for and festive looking and our little cabins are bright and clean.

But the work we are doing here in the Women's OpEd project is intense and hard. Katherine Lanpher is brilliant and she is a task master. A few of us have peaked in on the painting classes happening in the other buildings and those women seem a little happier. In our room, at any given time, you will find someone gripping their head, drilling their computer screen with a gaze so intense it's clear you will not interrupt, and we shout.  Yes, we shout.  When we attempt to explain our arguments for whatever piece we are writing, Katherine likes us to poke holes in the arguments. To do that we yell, "That's ridiculous!" as soon as we hear a false claim, a generalized statement, or iffy logic.  It's not for the weak of heart, but it's clear our modest midwestern ways take some steam out of the exercise because Katherine keeps saying, "Shout it! You have to shout it! THAT'S RIDICULOUS!"

Her point being is that we are in a safe place. Once you send your writing out into the world, the naysayers will have at you.  If you can ward off danger at the pass by contemplating the other side as thoroughly as possible, at least you will have been prepared.

I came with big ideas. Since I have done this once already, I thought I would whip out 3 pieces by week's end with the hopes that at least 2 would be ready for the grand finale....the "Push Send" moment she is grooming us for. Good column writers typically blast out theirs in 2 hours or so. My best pieces have been the ones that seemingly take the least amount of time to write.  

But (insert whiny voice),  Katherine wants to read these pieces.  She wants others to read them. Eight pairs of eyes see your words from a myriad of viewpoints and you get a general taste and excellent reminder that, no dearie, not everyone sees the world the way you do.

So....I am not revising my goal yet.  My first piece is near completion. I told Katherine with confidence that it only gets two more hours of my life and then I am moving on.

It turns out Katherine doesn't bite.  In fact, she thought this was a good idea because she knows how much I want to do. 

But this is why I am here and as hard as it is, I love it.

I have made it to the beach once already which is progress. The last time I took this class, I rarely left my cabin and had to take Tylenol PM to sleep.  So far, no drugs have entered my body (except for a bit of wine) and I am hoping to go back to the Big Bay Town Park beach at least once before I leave. 

Wish me luck.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. It makes me miss both writing workshops and Lake Superior. Writing workshops can be so intense but weirdly energizing and draining at the same time. I used to be part of a writing group that did 2 week-long workshops every year, and your post captures so much of those emotions. I would wake up in the middle of the night and write, my brain unable to stop thinking about writing even when my head was on the pillow. And the other writers whose passion for craft and language and the things you can do with both were so energizing and motivating and... such a sense of intense community for a short period of time. I miss that, and this post really makes me want to get back to that some day. Thank you so much for continuing to share your journey with us, Lisa. And enjoy watching the moonlight reflected on Lake Superior and listening to the sound of the wind on the water. Close your eyes and soak it all in once in a while. It's a magical place where magical things can happen. It sounds like that's the case for you and your workshop.


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