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I had the amazing opportunity to attend writing workshops at the Hedgebrook Spring Salon today. If you live near Seattle or Whidbey Island, I HIGHLY recommend these day-long salons for women writers. You get to go deep into your writing with like-minded individuals. It’s quite stimulating and inspiring. And I’m counting these pieces that I’m sharing as enough writing to be caught up for NaPoWriMo.

My first class was with Karen Finneyfrock and was called “The Writer’s Spring Cleaning: Let the Fresh Air In.” Here’s some of what I wrote in that class:

Again, I Am Asked If I Am A Writer

I walk the paths of the 48 acres
with a golden labradoodle as my sidekick.
She smells earth, eats grass and lopes
along on the gravel road ahead.

There are writers in the cottages.
I don’t want to disturb them.
My sidekick finds an oversized
black feather that was once attached to a crow.

Our sojourn from the office to the woods
and back again takes thirty minutes.
I pour water into a large metal bowl,
bend to set it down, and the dog eagerly drinks.

Her long and friendly tongue laps up the cool sustenance.
This is the aim of life: to wanter and sniff things out
until they become uninteresting, then switch paths,
stopping to rest and recharge.

I am loathe to plug back in
to the hypnotizing glow of my macbook.
It is a necessary meditation, because
Hedgebrook is a verb as well as a noun
and people need to know about both.

My place is at the corners of the cottages,
looking in and reporting out,
broadcasting utopia to the masses.
(Hoping someday to reside inside, briefly.)
So, well, I mean, kind of, sometimes, yes.
Jewel Theatre, Center for the Arts, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.

 

1.) Don’t major in theatre

The building and the theatre
didn’t yet exist when I
visited campus as a
16 year old high school junior.
We were crammed instead
into a conference room,
all perspective students
all possibly theatre majors.
The parents looked relieved
when the professor said:
“If you can do anything
else, do it. Theatre is a
not a vocation for the
faint of heart.”
I scowled into my
notebook. There was
promise in that land
out of which the Jewel
Theatre would be built,
uncovered, and polished.

2.) How to pray in a theatre

The empty space is holier
than church. You are an
actor. You fill it with
sound and fury, signifying
everything. You’ll need
two copies of a headshot
and resume and two contrasting
monologues: one comedic,
one tragic, one classical,
one modern–mix and match.
As you wait to audition,
recite the lines in your
head, make sure you’re
memorized by sliding
the beads around so
they come back and touch
each other. Rehearsal
is high mass and every
time a play is produced,
another angel dances and
recites a hail mary before
diving into the Riverside
Shakespeare. Be fearless,
take notes, meditate.
Come a full hour
before call time so
no one else is around
and sense the possibility.

 

 

3.) Calling the perfect show

The stage manager is God.
A director can nervously pace
in the wings (if he knows what’s
good for him.) But all hinges
on the stage manager in the booth
calling a tight show.
Light cues have numbers.
Sound cues have letters.
“Warning L23.” (breath. breath. breath)
“L23 GO.”
If the stage manager
is skilled enough,
the show becomes a rocket ship
carefully guided through
space and time
and the performances
are elevated, transcendent–
and the actors are astronauts.

4.) Framed in light bulbs

The dressing room
is where we transform.
College students come in
and fully realized characters
by Brecht, Durang, and
Wasserstein come out.
We are hippies and whores.
We tease our hair
and spread foundation
on our faces like butter:
a thick mast
so we are no longer ourselves.
Our makeup stations
set up like
Picasso’s palette,
creating something
sublime and deranged.

 

5.) Before the lights come up

Breathe deeply.
Step away from yourself.
Become the character.
Squeeze the hand of
your scene partner
(and try not to fall in love.)
Adjust your corset.
Peak from behind
the curtain.
(It’s a good house.)
Go through
all your rituals
in rapid succession.
Savoring what is about to unfold,
treating every beat
as though it has never
happened before,
as though you are
being baptized in the
story for the first time
like the audience.
Hold the space.
Complete the transformation.
Ignite the flame.

In the afternoon, I took the songwriting workshop, led by Sue Ennis. She, Anastasia Brencick, and I wrote a song together! It’s called “Cravings.” Here are the lyrics!

I wish that I could tell you
Delicate profanities
I taste cherries in my mouth
Infatuation: an incurable disease.

I see something behind your eyes
Let me tell you what you’re thinking
I’m the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
You’re going down, you’re sinking.

You can’t breath without inhaling me
And when you finally do
The air between our lips escapes
and whispers I want you.

Craving without tasting
Wanting to be devoured
Offer up your salty flesh
Sweet indulgence by the hour

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