The other day when I was at the library I saw a poster that said, “Join us here Monday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m., for a free writing workshop with this local author!” I hadn’t heard of the author, Theo Pauline Nestor, but I liked the poster and I was intrigued. I don’t think of myself much as a writer, and I certainly don’t have a novel brewing in my head, but I enjoy writing in my blog, and this sounded like a great (free!) opportunity. What the heck.
Miles had a basketball game that went until 6, so I got their a bit late, and the place was jam packed. Clearly the people standing by the door thought I should go away, but I muscled in and plopped myself on the floor in the back, barely able to see a thing. The author was already reading from her book, Writing is my Drink, about how she got started as an author, and it was good. Like other authors, she found her voice after writing a book that failed (nobody would publish her first book), and making her way out of the depression that ensued. She was funny, and real – two of my most favorite qualities in a person.
The workshop continued with her reading from her book, then giving us an exercise, reading, exercise, etc. Here are the three exercises she gave us:
- Write down times you’ve trusted yourself with your writing, and times you didn’t trust yourself. Then she had us write for four minutes about the scariest subject on our list.
- List your tribe of writers. Whose work do you love? (My list was long and included many whacky authors like Tom Robbins, John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, David and Amy Sedaris.) She suggested we try to imitate their work to learn from them..
- List the times in your life when you’ve failed. Write about those times.
I loved these exercises, and wrote down stuff like crazy, or typed them I should say, into the ‘Notes’ program of my iPhone, because I forgot a notebook and pen. Who goes to a writer’s workshop unprepared to write? Me. I guess I can add that to the long list under exercise #3.
She finished the night with a book signing, and I went to the library’s website and put her book on hold. I can’t wait to read it and continue with my exercises.