I picked up Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, in 1997, when I got stuck writing my doctoral dissertation. After reading the rules of writing practice, I set the timer on my kitchen stove, sat down at the table overlooking my neighbor’s yard, and followed the instructions to keep my hand moving. I wrote for ten minutes and continued for the next seventeen years. I wrote my way through my dissertation and right out of academe, into a more authentic life with writing at the center.
In 1999, less than a week after I filed my dissertation with the University of Texas, I attended my first workshop with Natalie at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos. Subsequently, I participated in three yearlong silent intensives, serving as her assistant for the 2011-2012 session. I also traveled to France and Italy with her to assist.
I began teaching writing practice in 2003. In 2008, I committed to teaching what Natalie calls “the true secret of writing”—sitting meditation, slow walking, and writing practice. After seeing this work transform the lives of so many friends in the intensives and later in my own workshops, I’ve committed myself for the long haul.
- I teach writing practice because it takes us below the surface of our discursive mind into first thoughts, where there is no room for compromise, where truth falls out of the mind and onto the page.
- I teach writing practice because it connects us to something larger than ourselves. Without that extension into the wider world, our minds and our writing remain small.
- This is the problem I have with too many workshops and MFA programs. They put primary emphasis on craft. Craft is important, but it is secondary.
- What is it that you must say? How do you connect to that deep place within that is also beyond you?
- I’ve found the holy trinity of sitting, walking, and writing the truest and ultimately most satisfying way.
In Creative Mix workshops, we begin from the point of practice and move to the matter of our everyday lives as artists. How do we create, support our families, and stay connected to our loved ones? How do we manage all of our responsibilities—to ourselves, to our work, to our families? Where do we put our energy on a daily and an annual basis? How do we move with the seasons of the year as well as the cycles of our creativity?
There is no single answer. No one size fits all. At Creative Mix, we seek ideas and inspiration from artists, past, and present. How are/were they living outside that proverbial box and stirring up new ways to combine art, life, and livelihood? How can we do the same?