There was a time when I lived by the creed that you could never have too many invitations to dance. If too many people asked, just bring ‘em ALL out on the dance floor! In my younger years, when I wore shiny silver platform shoes and dance shorts under my dresses for those times when I was flung over someone’s head, a good disco evening was when most of it was spent under the glitter ball, leaving your sweat on the multicolored floor of flashing lights.
Lately, life is feeling a bit more like those good old disco days. I’m not doing a lot of dancing, but I’ve had a lot more opportunities to say yes lately, and that’s making me happy.
I said yes when I was asked to serve on two different panels at AWP this year. The Association of Writers and Writing Programs is always a huge (and expensive) event and it is shaping up to be a must-attend place for veteran writers. This year in Tampa, I got to hang with a bunch of people – the ones I have recently learned to think of as my tribe, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be, seeing old friends, making new ones. Plus, Tampa!
I said yes when I was asked to be part of the editorial board for The Wrath-Bearing Tree. I have no idea why these cool people asked me to be a part of their team. I got to hang with several of them while at AWP — Matt Hefti, Andria Williams and Drew Pham, who is so cool he doesn’t even have his own website. I realized, these people are not only so creative they make your head explode, they are also really good human beings. It’s good to be around good humans. It’s so much easier than being around mean and nasty humans and there are far too many of those crawling out from under rocks lately. I think we should have a Wrath-Bearing Tree.com annual meeting just to ensure we get a regular dose of good human-itis.
I said yes to Thomas Brennan when he invited me to be a fellow at The War Horse.org Writing Seminar in Boulder Crest, Virginia. Five days of hanging out with twelve of the coolest women I’ve ever met. The writing instruction from David Chrisinger was intense and opened up avenues of creativity for me I never knew existed. I wrote an essay that helped me purge an experience I’ve been wrestling with for years. It hasn’t been published yet, but as soon as I find a home for it, I’ll announce it here. Every time I think back on that week I feel humbled and honored to have been asked. I will never regret saying yes to that. I’m working on a podcast about the retreat and hope to have it done soon. I’ll link it here when it’s ready. Here’s a link to a podcast I did about David and his amazing instruction.
I said yes when this guy I met a couple of years ago asked me to come to Duluth for his Bridging the Gap writer’s workshop. Eric “Shmo” Chandler, is throwing his first writing workshop, military storytelling event and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic weekend. His latest book called, Hugging this Rock, Poems of Earth and Sky, Love & War, reads like the writer is someone who is most comfortable outdoors, because he is. The instructors for the workshop are David Chrisinger (our instructor from the War Horse Writing Retreat) and Randy Brown, a Minnesota native who published a book called Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire. Yes. Haikus. Don’t laugh. He won a gold medal in poetry from the Military Writers Society of America. Andria Williams and I are “guest authors,” and the best part about this opportunity to say yes is, it’s in my home state of Minnesota. I get to do my writer thing and see family too. Had to say yes to that. If you’re in the Duluth area, please join us June 2-3, 2018. See the link for details.
I said yes when Tracy Crow (SUCH an amazing woman) asked me to be a part of her ON POINT Creative Writing Workshops. These two workshop weekends, one in Tampa (May 18-20, 2018) and one in Charlotte (June 8-10, 2018), are free and jam packed with instruction from a team of women authors. Jerri Bell, Jane Blair, Paula Broadwell, Brooke N. King, Anne Visser Ney, Abby E. Murray, Sally Parmer, Dr. Kate Hendricks and Laura Westley. Check out the link for the workshops. If you’re in the Tampa or Charlotte locations when these workshops are being held, you should treat yourself to a weekend with us. The workshops are sponsored by The Wounded Warrior Project, so they are free and worth every second of your time.
And I said yes when Ron Capps asked me to read with him during a Creative Forces Summit for the National Endowment for the Arts (la de dah, right?). At this event, on May 14 and 15 at The Meade Center for American Theater, we’re both reading from other writer’s works about their Iraq and Afghanistan experiences. Ron wants to break the rules a bit and include other conflicts with the goal of being as representative as possible. I’m down for that and I can’t wait!
That tribe vibe –that feeling you get when you know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be? That vibe is no joke. I’ll keep saying yes to it as long as people keep asking.