Hey, everyone, did ya miss me? Aside from hawking Jill Weatherholt’s latest novel (see here), I’ve been absent from the blog for roughly 6 weeks. As y’all might remember, my husband had back surgery (see here) the day before I started an intensive online writing workshop through Orion Magazine. Hey, why be boring and have major events happen sequentially? Best to do it all at once, don’t you agree?
In regards to my husband, he is doing quite well. In fact, he thinks the whole experience has been a miracle (he had set his expectations very low). In truth, the first week was a little rough as the 17 different drugs pumped into him slowly dissipated. The narcotics he was given for pain had side effects he did not like at all so he weaned off those quickly. I had thought that any post-surgical pain he’d have would be a “walk in the park” compared to his pre-surgery chronic pain. I was right. He is experiencing new kinds of pain (hello, arthritis!) but nothing as debilitating as what he experienced before.
You see, we didn’t know how bad his condition was before we met with the neurosurgeon. We didn’t know that he had already lost a lot of sensation in his feet because the loss occurred slowly, over a long period of time. You can imagine his joy when he stubbed his toe the other day and actually felt PAIN!
Yeah, it’s weird, but it’s all good.
Now … about my online writing workshop: It was probably … no, it was the BEST writing experience I have ever had! Scott Russell Saunders was kind with his feedback and generous with his time. He modeled the approach he wanted us to take, and everyone quickly followed his example. There were 12 of us participating, and we were asked to submit a piece (about 1500 words) once a week to Scott. He would then disperse our work to everyone. The pieces were split and discussed in alphabetical order: the first six participants had their work discussed one Saturday, the second set the following Saturday, and so on.
In our feedback, Scott urged us to discuss strengths and areas for development, but no “fixing.” After all, we were turning in drafts, not polished work. We would discuss each other’s writing during our sessions, but he also expected us to send written feedback as well. And Scott worked right along with us.
We had a couple of speakers (Sumanth Prabhaker and David Gessner), but otherwise it was just us. We Zoomed.
My workshop friends had varied backgrounds in botany, wildlife biology, conservationism, environmental justice; even, psychotherapy. In the course of this workshop, I learned about lichen, an urban farm in British Columbia, the American Toad, the American Mink and Lynx, the parks around Cleveland, Ohio, the prairies of Iowa, the life of killer whales, and fire. A few of my new friends live in the Pacific Northwest. The heat dome and then the fires filled their writing and our conversations.
As for my writing: I wrote three essays the first half, and they were well-received, enough so that I felt the workshop was a “safe place” in which to be a bit more vulnerable. I submitted a chapter from my ongoing, never-ending WIP Clemency. To my delight, everyone was delighted to have a change from nonfiction, and they were intrigued. They wanted more. So I submitted two more chapters, rounding out the workshop requirements, and now I am obligated.
I have to finish this novel.
That’s the gift I received from the workshop: encouragement from complete strangers.
So I gave myself a few days off to think about things, and I might need a few more days. I still have a lot of interests outside of writing. Now that I’m retired, I should be able to juggle everything … hahahahahaha.
Just for now, know that I’m back and will be visiting all your wonderful blogs again and participating in photography challenges. And I will finish that novel.
This morning I walked in my neighborhood and found a wonderful cluster of morning glories.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.