I spent Feb 9-12th in LA for a craft and courage writing class taught by Barbara Abercombrie at the UCLA extension Writers Program. She and the twelve people in the class took me and “my writing” I will say with confidence, to another level. I am not shy to say it was for me more about the courage than the craft. Which I might think for many is a major hurdle. We often, undeservedly, call it a hobby.
Barbara hit the nail on the head for me.”Coin or stamp collecting is a hobby, writing is a calling” And this isn’t to get all dramatic but writing can be almost this secret that you keep to yourself. I’m not sure where it falls in the realm of passions such as gardening or cooking. Do we call those hobbies? Is meditation a hobby? Do we choose not to validate writing if it doesn’t earn money? Maybe it’s because writing is something we (I) can spend a fair amount of time on and there is no basket of greens and strawberries or a meal on the table as proof of my labors. Writing doesn’t often produce a tangible thing- at least not something you want to share. Maybe writing along with the meditation is increasing my gray matter!
Cue blog. I’m bumping up its priority in my life once again.
This is me before the first day of class. One day soon I will update my profile photo from seven years ago. I treated myself to a little hotel, The Hilgard House in walking distance of the UCLA extension center in Westwood. I don’t look much different- hair has grown out and is up here. Laugh lines have deepened (a good thing). Maybe a little wider in the middle but my legs and tush are holding up pretty good. Well my tush is starting to head a little south but nothing a tight pair of jeans can’t hold in place.
I felt a little like this the first day…ohhh noooo
But after only a day with this wise, funny, honest lady, I was raring to go. She read quotes and writing prompts each day. We were encouraged but not required to read our work-fiction and non-fiction alike. She read more quotes to us and we talked about craft and writing habits. About making writing a priority and a daily habit. A guest speaker, Monica Holloway, author of “Driving with Dead People” and “Cowboy and Wills” came and shared her inspiring story of her writing life and how it took a new direction after her first class with Barbara.
So for the first time, outside of online classes, where I didn’t have to speak out loud and the only reference to my face was an online photo (likely dated), I shared what I wrote. The initial panic, thin voice and sweaty pre-menopausal hands, yielded rather quickly to shoulders relaxed with a hand going up to share first. I almost had to hold back because I actually started to really like it and to appreciate the feedback.
Granted, this was a very open, accepting, non-judgy group. But I’m grateful at this point in life to know that I don’t need to stick around any group of people who are not!
I spent four days in a classroom with windows that looked out on the rooftops of Westwood.
One day on lunch, I strolled through the farmers market. Probably year round in these parts.
I drank turmeric shots every morning at Pressed Juicery– just around the corner from my hotel and the class.
Met new friends and ate poke (Hawaiin raw fish) literally everyday. Sweetfin Poke started in Santa Monica. Salmon poke post coming soon…
And in the evenings, I put my fingers to the keyboard and kept on writing. AND I took part in the writers’ program instagram contest where I WON! I won a free class (can’t wait) and some other goodies coming by post. They are building their following and would love to have you join @writersprogram – you’ll find inspiring quotes as well as info on programs and events.
Will leave UCLA extension #writersstudio17 with motivation, focus, new writing friends, mentor and a jumpstart on my writing. Own it! @writersprogram#writersstudio #uclawritingextension#writers #writemore thank you Barbara! @barbaraabercrombie
I would highly recommend this four day studio program and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about my experience there.