March 10-14,2010

Writing From the Inside Out

Janet Thomas

Part I: Exploring Our Lives for Meaning and Memoir

When we reclaim our lives in writing, we make clear who we are, what we mean, where we come from, how we got here, and why. We get to live our lives twice; complete with the grace of hindsight as well as with the honesty that makes each life compelling and true. This memoir workshop is about getting away from these dastardly sound-bite, disposable times and diving into the depths of our lives where our stories save the world. There is nothing to be critical of, nothing to judge, and nothing to correct.

Many people bring to their adult lives a deep mistrust of their ability to write. All the red marks in school, the derision of professors, the impossibly subjective ivory tower of what makes “good” writing, creates a quicksand of judgment that can swallow a writer alive. And everyone who writes is a “writer.” And nobody can write our stories for us. And when we write them, we lay claim to our lives, irrefutably and completely. The only criteria is to tell the truth, to be fierce with reality, and then to let the writing lead the way. It leads us into our lives in ways that deepen our appreciation of our own and one another’s stories. It broadens our relationship to the world within and the world without. It tosses all the red marks into the dustbin of someone else’s “right” and “wrong” and liberates us into the unique and universal power of our own lives.

Part II: Whose Trip Is It, Anyways? How to Travel Honestly and Write About It, Too

In writing our tales of travel, how do we explore the present, respect the past, and please the reader? This is an active writing workshop in which the environment is explored, the senses come out to play, people are interviewed, landscape is described, research is accomplished, meaning is determined, lessons are taught, perspective is offered, discernment reigns, and all is fair in writing and truth-telling. Whether you are writing for yourself or the masses, your blog or your dog, your grandmother or your guru, your trip is only as interesting as the words on the page—virtual and otherwise.

(Note: All travel will take place in the limitless confines of Deer Park and the immediate vicinity.)

About Janet Thomas:
Janet was born in Wales and raised in various homes and gardens across Canada and the U.S. Her first introduction to Buddhism came through the work of writers Kenneth Rexroth and Gary Snyder in 1969. For 40 years she has practiced paying attention and is profoundly grateful to all her Buddhist teachers for their unfailing devotion to truth and transcendence.

Her writing encompasses plays – produced from L.A. to NYC; travel writing – from books about hostels to editor-in-chief of SPA Magazine; non-fiction – from the "Battle in Seattle – The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations" to the recently published memoir, "Redemption Song in Dharamsala – A Memoir of Life Lost and Found." She lives, writes and teaches on San Juan Island in the northwest corner of Washington State in the U.S.

 

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