Workshop ends

Posted on 24 August 2004

The workshop is over and I am tired but content with what I have accomplished over the past few weeks.

I know I have not been keeping this blog up to date but it has been impossible. I have hardly sat down except when the workshop was in session and even then, we were involved in movement, both of body and voice. This is new ground for me. I have become used to exposing myself on paper but when asked to do it aloud, using sound and body rather than words, I felt inhibited, self-conscious, frightened even. The first day we incorporated movement, I missed the cues (much is done with the eyes closed so one can move into one’s private thoughts) and I felt like a traveller on a train who had missed her station and was beside myself with grief, not being able to move or express myself.

There is something so private also about the movement and sound sessions that I will not write at length about them. They feel in a way like the “red tent” where women go to be alone, to think and tell their stories without fear of reprisal. Delving into the psyche is scary business and one, or me, rather did not realize how constricted I am until I started this work. Now it is over, I see how far I have to go. (I wonder here if I am making any sense.)

We had a night of open readings and I read “Apres Anais Nin” and “French Letters” and one writer told me that I was “brilliant.” Compliments are difficult for me. I note also how hard it is for me to talk of myself in a positive light. So much easier to put myself down. But there is a whisper inside my brain that says “yes, you can write… too many people have told you so… but don’t get too cocky.” I am lost here.

I want to write so badly it hurts. I want to speak out in a loud confident voice. I need to. “Is this all about you?” a voice in my head asks. Yes, I respond. “Selfish creature” but something else is coming through. I need to do exactly what I am doing if I want to take my writing further.

By the end of the week, there was a true closeness amongst all – one for each Other – and for me, respect for all. We had – every last one of us – to some degree, laid ourselves bare.

The last morning, I asked Marlene if I could read “So Much Happiness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. She said it was a perfect beginning to the last session: “Since there is no place large enough/ to contain so much happiness,/ you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you/ into everything you touch./ You are not responsible.” I felt so full.

I am awkward with tender feelings but I feel such tenderness for Marlene and Ursula who led the writers through articles, poetry, meditations, movement, sound, who listened with “rapt attention”, who held us together so tenderly.

One moves into a strange space when one does such work. I still feel quite vulnerable.

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