I facilitated an expressive writing class today. There were to be ten people attending. Only a few women showed up. It didn’t matter. I love working with women as there is much in their experience that is difficult, if not impossible to get into when men are in the group.
I understand that men have their traumas and their pain, and indeed, we are all human and can share the pain. However, for women struggling to make sense of their pain, shame, and guilt, having a single sex group is helpful.
I enjoy engaging with women. The irony of that statement is grounded in my youthful dislike of women. I didn’t know then what I understand now. That is not to say that I have patience for those females who are superficial, mean-spirited, or airheads. Listen, I never said I wasn’t judgmental.
We learn from the stories other women share with us. Years ago, I wrote a non-fiction book on women and creativity. The stories that were offered to me during those interviews were precious. For the most part, after speaking for a short time, the raw stories of these women tumbled out. I was honored that they shared so openly with me.
I have taught many workshops, most of them to women and every time, the sharing has had a profound impact upon me and others. I cherish those women, their honesty, their courage and their willingness to share.
I met with an exciting new friend today. She is a marketer, an artist and an entrepreneur. We talked for a long time about collaborating on a new project. She began by telling me about an interview she had conducted with a woman who operates an arts program. During that conversation, my new friend expressed her views about something the other woman did presented problems ethically for my friend. It was a matter of principle for my friend. I listened and understood both her idealism and ethical principles and the reality of not alienating the woman who was in a position to promote my friend in many ways.
That conflict between ideals and business confounds me. I am always struggling with my art vs earning a living. A few weeks ago, I posed a question on a linkedin group. “How does one keep the creative juices flowing when one has to write material that is uninspiring?” A man answered and then a woman. The woman felt one could be inspired by anything and if that was not the case, I should not write for money.
I didn’t appreciate her tone or aggression and in truth, I felt this woman had never written anything creative outside of the business context. Don’t misunderstand. It takes creativity to put together material that moves a buyer or another business to take action. But it is a completely different context than writing a non-fiction book, a short story, or even a play. I have written in these formats and prefer them to business writing.
I am realistic, most of the time, and understand that my art comes second to my being able to support myself. That conflict at times binds me up. I find I cannot get to what I want to write either because I am tired from writing all day about business or that my creative energies are not being fed.
I respond to the exchange of ideas, the energy of others, the excitement of possibilities. I am excited by the potential in the new relationship I formed today. I am eager to meet the challenges and opportunities the project will present to me as a writer and a creative being. I am excited to learn more through this association about conducting business so that I can do my art in whatever context it may manifest and diminish my internal conflict that binds me and stops the creative flow.
I have two projects I have been avoiding. Both, of course, are mine. I find that I grow intolerant of my procrastinations and then when nothing else can be used I sit down and begin. It is actually a terrible way to prepare to write, but there are times when it happens none the less. Over the years, I have grown to understand my process; that doesn’t make the process any easier or the avoidance more manageable. What it does do however, is it gives me an opportunity to be patient, to acknowledge that I am preparing and then when the moment is right I can begin.I have been in just such a state for about two months now. I began by reading–I was “researching” my topic. Which is true on some level, but it still allowed me an excuse not to sit and write. I remember years ago, while working on my dissertation, that I was researching. And, researching, and researching. I knew the time had come to stop researching and write. I was told then to remember that it should not be viewed as the final piece of my life. That helped ease the pressure. I sometimes have to remind myself that it is a process. Besides, if I don’t get it right, I can redo it. Simple, NOT. I have now reached that moment. One of my projects is foreign to me, as I am to write the story of a Viet Nam battle through the eyes of a commander. I am scared because I do not feel I can hear the man’s voice or the voices of the other men. I have spent the last twenty plus years writing, but when I have written my own projects they have always been from a woman’s voice. And so, I am at my limit. I must begin because the avoidance has become intolerable. That is a good thing. At least I am consistent — maybe.
So the saga continues. On Friday I was told by the woman who interviewed me for the script writer position, “The other writers and I really loved you. We think you are great. Please write a brilliant script for us and by the way we want it first thing Monday morning.”
After much hand-ringing over the weekend about whether this position is right for me, after working 6 hours on a script for no remuneration, and after having my nails done on Monday in case I began work on Tuesday, I finally learned this morning that I did not get the job. I was told that while my script had potential, it sounded more like a written piece than the text of a voice over.
I was trained as an actress at a world renowned acting school, have written plays besides my other writings. And, I have been a public speaker. I know what dialogue sounds like. None of that really matters. In truth, the job had a ridiculously long work day 8- 5:30 (but everyone gets in at 7:30…) And they give employees one week vacation after a year. I have worked as a freelance writer for over twenty – five years, this didn’t sit well with me. I will get the job done and on time but don’t get crazy about when I punch in.
So, in the end I guess it worked out fine. I don’t have to be defiant or rebellious, I don’t have to have a resentment. But I did resent the fact that I didn’t have the opportunity to decided I didn’t want the job. Yes, it was given to a “seasoned script writer,” but I was told “we think you are an amazing woman and you will succeed in whatever you do.” Excuse me! I might be wrong, but I think that was a bit condescending….
On a more positive note, I sent out 360 e-mails about my two books. It is holiday time and they are perfect gifts for the women in your life. Dancing with Gods: a collection of women’s short stories, and “Awakening Minerva: The Power of Creativity in Women’s Lives, both are available online at amazon.com and the other book dealers or can be ordered at your local book store.
Happy Thanksgiving to all — whomever you may be.
It has been about five days since I created a post. It is not for lack of interest, but rather, I am so overwhelmed by the things I have to do to get this blog going. Anyway….
Last night, I spoke to an audience of about 250-300 people concerning the benefits of art education and children’s learning. I was told by those close to me, that it was a wonderful talk. Some in the audience did not quite have the ability to hang in there. I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the local t.v. stations were supposed to have been there. They weren’t. I wasn’t disappointed until I learned they never showed up.
Today, I went for a job interview as a script writer — commercial videos for t.v. I had to create two press releases based upon website material as a test for round one. It took me 20 minutes longer than I would have liked to complete 2 releases, but then I did the best I could.
It has been so many years since I worked full time for another person. In my office, my desk is by the window. I love natural light. The office I was in today had no windows. I do not know if I will be called back, if yes – fine, if no- fine. Conflicted?!!
I am about to begin work on a short story about a real battle that took place in Viet Nam. It was a brutal, long battle with hundreds of people dying on both sides. A friend of mine led the final phases of the U.S. attack. He has never recovered from the battle. But, it coincides with material that I am gathering on the civil war. The strategy used at one of the civil war battles helped my friend plan his course of action so many years ago.
I believe that this job, writing video scripts can help prepare me for this Civil War project. I want to do it as a film script. That is one of my traits: I don’t stick to one thing. The more complex and difficult the more it seems to call to me. I don’t apologize for that tendency, it is truly part of who I am as a writer.
Just heard my daughter walk in. So adieu…