Yesterday, I attended my first ever writer’s workshop. Well, ‘work’ for her, more ‘shop’ for me. I was reintroduced to the power of the perfect verb, and then lured away from over-use of rich, saucy, jaunty, or sultry adjectives (no extra charge for the built in analogy) and ultimately warned against falling in love with our own words.
Just as juicy was my education in the necessity of nixing unnecessary words that simply tumble off the pen in a mottled ramshackle verbosity more for my own prideful perusal than to either advance the craft itself or, God forbid, get better at said craft.
See what I mean? Yeah, that’s why I went.
Lois Keffer, award winning author, editor and educator (I was not paid for the shameless plug) sat patiently through what, for her, seemed elementary, elemental; foundational. For us, it was the educational equivalent of a satiating a drunk’s need for naughty nectar. Her presence was steady without being stuffy and a quiet patience followed equally encouraging words. I’m not quite as strutty with my own material now, as I was the day before yesterday.
Writing is not something I sat down to do one day because there was nothing good on the Comedy channel (although one certainly can help the other). Writing as art or leisure was once a foreign concept. And, although I’ve always loved wordy stuff, it never really crossed my mind before last year that writing was that and more besides.
It is prayer.
The act of dotting pages with jots and tittles becomes more captivating with each page. Despite the fact that the pages I write do not always titillate like good words should, it is becoming contemplative space for me; a non-lingual thin place. To speak too often is to bloat the air with noise, unlearned, opinionated or simply unneeded. Unless one has had the experience of silent retreat, words spoken will continue to dominate our daily experience robbing us of the larger intervals between them. Those are the places with gifts to give. They might otherwise tease us out of lethargy or pain if given the opportunity. Silence gives us pause to listen to no words and to more words. Different words. Holy words. Perhaps even healing words.
To write is not to speak. Not to speak means we must listen. To listen promises new gifts of love and insight. To write what we hear brings others into the dance with us.
Maybe that’s why I went.